In considering the question "Is photography a fine art?- there are a number of other questions we need to deal with, and the answer to our primary question will depend upon the other questions we ask ourselves. As with so many things, anyone's personal point of view comes directly from the questions they don't ask, as well as the questions they do. In order to establish why John Berger, in his essay "Understanding a Photograph- came to the conclusion that photography is not a fine art (a conclusion I though roughly disagree with) we need to look at the questions he asked himself and those he didn't - in other words the contexts in which he considered the primary question.
Ever since photography was first invented, the argument has been consistent - is it classed as a fine art? The first question that should actually be considered is: What do people define as fine art? The dictionary definition suggests it is: .
"The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colours, forms, movements or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium."" .
This quite formal view of fine art contains three elements:.
a. that fine art is something considered to be aesthetically pleasing because it affects the "sense of beauty- in the eye of the beholder;.
b. that it consists of a conscious and planned attempt to arrange or manipulate something according to the artist's vision;.
c. that it is produced using a graphic or plastic medium.
I think most people would agree with these three elements but John Berger added other considerations to these three. He suggested that:.
d. the "purpose- of making a photograph or painting should be considered;.
e. that the "effort- and "skill- involved in making the image was important;.
f. that the "uniqueness- of the image mattered;.
g. that the social function - i.e. in his view, the "market value- as "property- be included;.