What is photography? Lots of people are asking themselves this question. Is it art? Is it science? Is it a simple reproduction of reality? Photography is none of these and all together in the same time. There is no simple answer to what is photography. For each photographer,
it might be something else.
There is no doubt that photography resembles art. But is art the only answer to what is photography? Some would argue that photography is in fact science because the success of a photographer highly depends on the camera and equipment. This might be true to some extent, but there were also numerous photographers who took amazing photos with limited equipment. A layman in photography might have the best camera ever at his or hers disposal and still fail in shooting spectacular photos. It thus means that science is not the answer to what is photography either. Is photography a simple representation of reality? It might be, but it is definitely not an objective representation. The reality that we see in a photo is the reality that the photographer wants to show. It’s the reality that the photographer sees and understands. As said, there is no simple answer to what is photography. For someone who shoots landscapes for the simple pleasure of admiring them later, it might be pure art. For someone who is fascinated in how the camera works and tries setting after setting, it might be more science than art. Finally, if you ask a photo reporter what is photography, he or she will definitely say it’s a representation of the reality. For journalists, photography is the most effective way to record things exactly as they were without any subjectivism involved. Indeed photography is one of the most accurate ways of keeping history alive.
There will probably never be a consensus on what is photography. However, what matters most is not what photography is in general, but what this is for you. Are you taking photos because you want to immortalize wonderful landscapes and nature wonders? Do you simply push the camera button in order to record memories like the first smile or the first step of your kids? If you truly want to find out what is photography, try to figure out what it means for you. Once you have this answer, you will know how to approach photography and how to become a better photographer.
In order to honestly answer what is photography for you, forget about technical details and settings of the camera. Think about your feelings and your goals when you take a picture. Do you want it to be spectacular, do you want to show a perspective that no one has seen before or do you want to record reality in the most objective manner? Are you planning to show things in a different manner or are you simply interested in creating memories for later on? Depending on your personal answer to what is photography you can identify and achieve your photographic goals easier.
The bottom line is that photography is whatever you want it to be. It might be art, science or a representation of reality, depending on your vision on the pictures you are taking.