Is It Photography?

Written by:

By Steve Russell

Today I’m going to take a somewhat different approach than what Tiffany and I usually feature in our articles. I’m going to showcase the work of a single photographer. Then I’m going to ask a question about the work. The question will admittedly be a value judgment kind of question and I recognize there isn’t any uniform correct answer. I will give my answer and why but I really want you to answer the question for yourself. Once you’ve answered the question for yourself think about why you answered the way you did and apply that thought process to your photography and see if you look at your work any differently than before.

The photographer is Faye Mozingo. Faye’s a Beyond Megapixels reader, posts many of her images on the Beyond Megapixels group in Flickr and “Likes” Beyond Megapixels on Facebook. Even with all that it was quite by accident that I found her Flick account and began perusing her work. Here are a couple of photographs of roses she has posted in her Flickr account.


Two very nice photos of roses. It’s easy to see that Faye is very accomplished with a camera in her hand and has a very good eye. Here are four additional examples of her work that give a very different view of her artistic abilities.




Is this photography? That’s my question for you. There’s absolutely no doubt that this is art. Much of her work is absolutely beautiful and Faye is clearly talented. But, is it photographic art or is it a different art form that uses photographs?

Nature photography is my favorite photographic genre. Because of this I’m biased about what makes a really good photograph. Nature photographers strive to capture the subject as it is and make a beautiful image. Any manipulation of the image is minimal because we want a goldfinch to look like a goldfinch and not a stylized version of a goldfinch. Because of my admitted bias, my view is that she is taking a photograph that she has captured, like the first two of the roses, and uses various software programs to create a form of artwork that is different from photography.

What do you think? Please add your comments below or on our Facebook page. But, whether you comment or not, I urge you to visit Faye’s Flickr account and view her work. I think you’ll agree with me that she is very talented and a very good artist.

Here are a few more of her images.



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  • Rafael3706

    ..

  • Rafael3706

    I don’t count it as photography as she’s using photos to make art.
    Using the moments she took to create something out of it.
    Art yes, Photography no.
    Anyways follow me on twitter!
    I’ll follow back
    http://www.twitter.com/rafaelgoesskii
    copy&paste

  • Hidden4good

    While some look very heavy Photo-shopped, alas I would still call it “Photography” or Photographic Art, for the top 6 images.

    While today so many people now have computers and software that makes manipulation of photographic images so much easier, where is the difference between these and what a person would have (could have) done in their darkroom years ago?

    Having said that, the images where the photograph is basically lost in the “ART” work stopped becoming a “Photo” and has since become a piece of art.  Andy Warhol’s images, where he takes a photo image and paints over it, isn’t call a photo anymore, it is referred to as art.

    If it can’t be done in the darkroom (like the bottom 3) than it stopped being a Photograph and became a piece of art. 

  • Riley

     The first couple of images are photography.  Once the heavy photoshopping enters the picture, it morphs to a different art form, one that uses photos as part of the process.

  • http://www.stephaniecourt.com/ Stephanie

    The first two are definitely examples of photography but after that it crosses into what I consider digital art.  They incorporate elements of photography or even photographs, but they are not photographs themselves.  This is a very broad way of explaining it but, to me, if it can’t be done in camera or in a dark room, it isn’t photography.  Her work is beautiful and she is certainly skilled at her chosen medium, but it’s not photography.

  • Ade Perillo

    Nice collection! I’ve always been a photography lover ever since, I love everything from nature, wildlife and portrait. I am an Athletic Trainer by Profession but always had a keen Interest in photography. The main focus of my business recently has been strength in wedding photography.

  • http://www.herworldplus.com/beauty Pictures Of Stars

    I loved your work. It is more than just a photography . Beautiful work it is really.

  • Henry Peach

    Photography is a very general concept.  Many different activities fall within it’s definition (which mainly concerns the use of light sensitive materials or tools).  Study up on the history of photography, and it’s clear that radical creative manipulation has been part of it since the beginning. 

    Early orthochromatic emulsions were very blue sensitive, and required blending multiple exposures to show clouds in the sky.

    Photomontage has been around since day one.  http://www.d-log.info/timeline/index.html

    Before “straight photography” was considered art there were the Pictorialists.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pictorialism

    And even among the so called “straight” photographers when you peer behind the darkroom door there is a lot of potential for creative manipulation; read Ansel Adams’ books The Negative and The Print.  His most famous print “Moonrise” doesn’t look anything like a straight contact print of the neg.

    “We must remember that a photograph can hold just
    as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full
    possibilities of the medium.” -Ansel Adams
    Straight photography became so overwhelmingly popular because it’s easy to accept what the camera and auto-lab processing spits out than to get involved and start messing around.  Or at least it used to be.  Now we can all have advanced processing tools and resources at home.  Some photographers like to avoid any changes not prescribed by the camera and materials manufacturers.  Others like to destroy those boundaries.  Most fall somewhere in between.

    But the “Is it REAL photography?” debate has been going on for a long time without a clear answer.  The following quote was published in 1903.

    “It is rather amusing, this tendency of the wise
    to regard a print which has been locally manipulated as irrational
    photography – this tendency which finds an esthetic tone of expression
    in the word faked. A manipulated print may be not a photograph. The
    personal intervention between the action of the light and the print
    itself may be a blemish on the purity of photography. But, whether this
    intervention consists merely of marking, shading and tinting in a direct
    print, or of stippling, painting and scratching on the negative, or of
    using glycerine, brush and mop on a print, faking has set in, and the
    results must always depend upon the photographer, upon his personality,
    his technical ability and his feeling.
    But long before this stage of conscious manipulation has been begun,
    faking has already set in. In the very beginning, when the operator
    controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in dark-room the
    developer is mixed for detail, breadth, flatness or contrast, faking has
    been resorted to. In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to
    finish, a purely impersonal, un-manipulated photograph being practically
    impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of
    degree and ability.” -Edward Steichen

  • Henry Peach

    Photography is a very general concept.  Many different activities fall within it’s definition (which mainly concerns the use of light sensitive materials or tools).  Study up on the history of photography, and it’s clear that radical creative manipulation has been part of it since the beginning. 

    Early orthochromatic emulsions were very blue sensitive, and required blending multiple exposures to show clouds in the sky.

    Photomontage has been around since day one.  http://www.d-log.info/timeline/index.html

    Before “straight photography” was considered art there were the Pictorialists.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pictorialism

    And even among the so called “straight” photographers when you peer behind the darkroom door there is a lot of potential for creative manipulation; read Ansel Adams’ books The Negative and The Print.  His most famous print “Moonrise” doesn’t look anything like a straight contact print of the neg.

    “We must remember that a photograph can hold just
    as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full
    possibilities of the medium.” -Ansel Adams
    Straight photography became so overwhelmingly popular because it’s easy to accept what the camera and auto-lab processing spits out than to get involved and start messing around.  Or at least it used to be.  Now we can all have advanced processing tools and resources at home.  Some photographers like to avoid any changes not prescribed by the camera and materials manufacturers.  Others like to destroy those boundaries.  Most fall somewhere in between.

    But the “Is it REAL photography?” debate has been going on for a long time without a clear answer.  The following quote was published in 1903.

    “It is rather amusing, this tendency of the wise
    to regard a print which has been locally manipulated as irrational
    photography – this tendency which finds an esthetic tone of expression
    in the word faked. A manipulated print may be not a photograph. The
    personal intervention between the action of the light and the print
    itself may be a blemish on the purity of photography. But, whether this
    intervention consists merely of marking, shading and tinting in a direct
    print, or of stippling, painting and scratching on the negative, or of
    using glycerine, brush and mop on a print, faking has set in, and the
    results must always depend upon the photographer, upon his personality,
    his technical ability and his feeling.
    But long before this stage of conscious manipulation has been begun,
    faking has already set in. In the very beginning, when the operator
    controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in dark-room the
    developer is mixed for detail, breadth, flatness or contrast, faking has
    been resorted to. In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to
    finish, a purely impersonal, un-manipulated photograph being practically
    impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of
    degree and ability.” -Edward Steichen

  • http://www.photo-recovery-review.com/ Cherleen

    She has a great collection. I admire her for maximizing the use of her talent and camera. I also love nature photography. I wish I can be as good as her someday. 

  • http://twitter.com/JeromeShaw Travel Writer/Photog

    I think you have question bass ackwards. It is photography but is it art? The term art is tossed around way too freely. The status of art is achieved only with intent, expression and often time’s passage. I can create a photograph and call it such immediately but it does not make that photo, art even if I call it that. Much of what is termed art in photography is decor or decorative art.

    In terms of giving a technical appellation to the images 3-8, I would call them photo illustrations. I enjoy creating photographic illustrations as well as simple photographs but few if any ever rise to the category of art.

    Jerome Shaw

    Travel Boldly

  • http://twitter.com/JeromeShaw Travel Writer/Photog

    I think you have question bass ackwards. It is photography but is it art? The term art is tossed around way too freely. The status of art is achieved only with intent, expression and often time’s passage. I can create a photograph and call it such immediately but it does not make that photo, art even if I call it that. Much of what is termed art in photography is decor or decorative art.

    In terms of giving a technical appellation to the images 3-8, I would call them photo illustrations. I enjoy creating photographic illustrations as well as simple photographs but few if any ever rise to the category of art.

    Jerome Shaw

    Travel Boldly