Can Photography be Art?

It’s a curious thing, photography.

The capturing of form, light, and texture that one sees through one’s eyes.

Sometimes considered “secondary” to the other 2 dimensional art forms such as painting and printmaking.

Isn’t photography simply a mirror to our perceived visual reality?

How can it be “true art” when it simply captures the ordinary world around us?

It’s “easy” and pervasive.

There are literally millions of images created each day through this medium, by millions of photographers globally - it’s ordinary.

This may be true if it not were for the powerful testimony of the work of photographers who have, over the century, decimated such ill-considered nonsense.

The photographic work of Henri Cartier-Bresson is currently in exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane and another internationally-acclaimed photographer, Sue Adler is currently exhibiting her work at The Channon Gallery - worlds apart in terms of venue, but closely aligned in quality of content.

So what’s so special about these photographers? After all, they simply pushed a button!

To us and many other eyes, this is a question answered quite simply.

Life, as most of us experience it, is linear.
Events occur, moments pass, and history is consigned to an often imperfect memory. Photography has the power to recreate memory and evoke a sense of time and place, that we may never have even experienced.

This is what’s so special about the work of photographers like Cartier-Besson and Adler.

Photography in the hands of a master is breathtaking, and has the unparalleled ability to capture mood and the moment that arguably transcends all other art forms.

The work of photographers of the calibre of our two examples speaks directly to that mood and directly to that moment.

It’s “true art” because it transcends the ordinary world around us.

When we witness such photography, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.


Sue Adler - A Colourful Life in Black & White, The Channon Gallery until 27th November, 2011
Henri Cartier-Bresson - The Man, The Image & The World, Queensland Art Gallery until 27th November, 2011