How many of us have heard the phrase uttered one place or another: Photography is not art. I have, many times in the past. Surprisingly, most often from others who consider themselves artists.
Or if it’s not explicitly stated, the non-art of photography is implied in some way. Even by the photographers themselves: I can’t draw a straight line, but I can photograph. As if photography is the also-ran art form, what you turn to when you have otherwise no artistic talent. I can imagine an ad: Don’t worry if you can’t paint or draw, you can be a photographer!
Those of us who practice photography know these statements are not true. Photography is art and photographers are artists. I’m not going to belabor or try to prove the point here. Whether you believe it or you don’t, that’s your concern.
But what I want to point out is that being a photographer, being an artist who practices photography, is a choice. It’s a first choice.
It’s not a runner-up choice. It’s not what you do if you can’t paint or draw. It’s not what you do because it’s easier, or cleaner, or cheaper, or more accessible than your first choice art form.
Photography is what you do when you can help but see the details of the world. It’s what you do when the beauty of the lines around you takes your breath away. It’s what you do when you realize that you can frame things, things that everyone else might walk by everyday, and express yourself through them.
A photographer is an artist who can’t help but speak through the visual language of the lens. We are compelled to see and share the world this way. Those of us who have a deep heart and soul connection to the medium know this. There is no need to prove or justify it to anyone else.
I am a photographer by choice. It’s a choice I make, every day, as I continue to pick up my camera and seek to express myself. It’s a choice I make, as I continue to learn and grow my artistic vision.
But there are moments….
Moments I wonder if I don’t have it the wrong way around.
Moments when the need to create and communicate through a photograph is so powerful, I ask myself…
Did photography choose me?