Art and Photography

A recent conversation with a photographic colleague brought up an interesting topic. What do you see as art in your photography? My answer was everything. How did I come to this conclusion? The photography medium has been described as documentary, but I beg to differ.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to become acquainted with an artist who helped me shape my way of looking at my craft. He asked me once where I saw art in the world and I listed a few examples, to which he said yes, you are right, then he corrected me by saying art was everywhere and in everything. A bold statement, I thought. As he explained his point of view I realized how right he was. Art is all around us, only to be seen and drawn out by the artist. I started looking at my photography in a very different way. Nature photography took on a whole new meaning to me, as well as my studio work. Let me put a few examples in front of you to explain further.

Art in nature:

Brandywine Falls

A simple photograph of a waterfall in Ohio, The color harmony and framing of the subject by the trees is created by nature. All I did to bring out the art in this image was pick a point of view and angle that accented what was already there. By the way, to get the full impact of what I am explaining, please view these images in their full version.

Fungi on rotting stump

this image is cropped vertical and definitely needs to be viewed in full version. The image, when viewed as a photograph instead of art is ordinary, but please look deeper. Find the eerie image of a distorted face in the tree. A spooky image with a mewing that goes deeper with a more subjective viewing.

Decaying log with leaf

A leaf on a log, nothing spectacular, but think of the contrast of the two, both dead and rotting and both from the same source. Two different textures contrasting each other. Add to that the question what is holding the leaf on the log? As you think about the image and look deeper a new meaning will come to you.

Flower on the shore

A plant next to a river. A small plant and a very large river. Consider the struggle of the pant not to be washed away, holding onto its life by a tiny root system, battling to hold its ground while the river waves ad current work to dislodge it.

Art with people in nature:

Surf Fishing

Pleasing enough, relaxing, almost makes you wish you were there. An early morning sunrise image that explores feelings more than situations. Look at the image and imagine the sounds of the surf, the smell of the salt air and the majesty of a sunrise at the golden hour over the Atlantic. Are you seeing a pattern yet?

Man made art:

Carnival in B&W

A must see in the full version. A carnival ride against an ominous sky makes for an eerie feeling. Maybe a haunted ride or a scene from a horror movie. Imagination creates the art in the image.

Stephen Foster memorial chapel detail

A vertical image, Please view in full. Architecture at its grandest. A small chapel in front of a cathedral. The art is in the grandeur of the on building while the smaller, more ornate building holds its own. It takes some thought to look deeper, but the elements of art are in the image.

Weeping lady receives a bouquet

This gravestone tells an amazing story. The stone carving of a woman draped over and weeping over her husband's grave. Feel the emotions of her grief. Look into the wide open eyes and imagine the terror she feels as the only thing that keeps her from being homeless in a very hard world now lays cold in the grave. This grave is 150 years old so you have to take yourself back in time to understand the image. Add the fact that someone still remembers her and her family as evident by the flowers on the headstone.

Musical Score with Conductor's Baton

Studio image of music and a conductor's baton. Self explanatory. Art in music, with art in photography. The conductor's baton implies interpretation, which is what this article is all about. You see what you want to in any image or piece of art. It is completely subjective. My friend the artist never titles his art for fear it will influence the observer in his interpretation, limiting the art. He feels art has no limit and should never be influenced by suggestions of what to look for in the piece. He is right in many ways. Everyone sees something different in his art. Photography is the same.

I challenge you to study your work and look for what you are projecting as the meaning in your work. View it more deeply and with more passion. Imagine the story behind the work and you will create a more meaningful experience for the viewer.

Good luck with your next creation in this wonderful, artistic medium!

Photo credits: David Coleman.

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November 11, 2017


Very insightful lmarc1. I like your way of thinking. No one said art is not painful. It involves all emotions from pain to love. I like the exercise you have suggested as well and will be putting it into practice at my next opportunity. I can see here it will help develope the eye for detail and finding hidden art in any scene. I would also suggest that you extend it to situations and events as well though. Trying to find art in everyday occurrences. Thank you for your wisdom on this subject!

November 10, 2017


I fully agree that photography is art and that art is everywhere, but I wish to add a tiny thought of my own. Not only is photography art and vice versa, but both are one in the same in another manner. Both are beauty. Everything we see or touch has a unique beauty all it's own, even if it doesn't evoke positive thoughts or images. Many journalistic or editorial images are not mentally uplifting, but they have a message and a beauty if we look for it. A dead soldier or the eyes of a hungry child are not easy to look at, but there is a mental, maybe even traumatic, connection that in some small way makes us a better person, and puts a spark of emotion in our hearts when we see the image. That spark is equal to the one we gain in an art gallery or a photographic exhibit, and it becomes beauty...merely on another level than that with which we are accustomed.

In my opinion, photography, art and beauty are very personal. Art and beauty are everywhere, and they are everything. I love close-up and macro photography, so I like to do this little exercise now and then to keep my mental faculties sharp: go into your back yard, the park, or even your own bedroom. Mark off a 20 x 20 (or whatever) square. Take special care to look for anything within that square that has a unique beauty. Take photos if you can, but mostly just observe. You will be astounded at the things you walk past every day and never really see. Yes, art and beauty are everywhere.

October 24, 2017


Great blog , thanks 😊

October 21, 2017


Patrick57 you are right on. I consider myself an artist, my brush is light on digital medium. Hence the name lightpro. I paint with light. Glad to see there are other people out there that think like me!

October 21, 2017


Good article Lightpro! I agree art is everywhere, one of my favourite sayings is "Nature paints the best pictures". I'm happy to try and catch a small part of what is on offer to those people who look more closely. :)

October 18, 2017


I would hope so. The gift of artistic vision is wonderful and helps the artist see beyond the structure and into the art hidden in the image. Keep your eyes open, your portfolio shows a lot of that vision!

October 18, 2017


I love this description of the creative process. I agree 100% and see things this way often. In fact, when driving by a bridge under construction recently, I commented to friends about the interesting geometry and shadows of the steel supports. They laughed and said, "Only you could find interest in something as boring as a construction project." I bet you and a lot of DT contributors would have seen the same thing I did. :)

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