Recently I had a discussion via exchange of comments on a YouTube video about the use of the word "artist" when referring to a photographer, or when a photographer is referring to themselves. In brief, a very well accomplished photographer said something like; "...artist, if you want to call yourself that..."
This made me wonder - what else would you call yourself? I mean, you are creating, are you not?
I think of it this way; If you work at an auto assembly plant installing seats into new cars your output is absolutely mechanical, exactly repeatable and does not require you to interpret the situation or surroundings in any way. You simply install the seat in exactly the same manner, over and over again and consistently achieve the exact same result. Not knocking that work, but it clearly is not in any way artistic.
The photographer on the other hand is inspired by something that compels her to pick up the camera and compose a shot. He interprets the scene through a mental or visual lens and then works out how to portray that interpretation through the medium of a photograph. It is said that the painter starts with a blank canvas and must decide what to put into the picture being created, while the photographer starts with a filled canvas and must decide what to leave out. This really speaks to just one part of composing a great image, but with many variables at the photographer's disposal bringing all the elements together to create a visually pleasing image is much, much more than simply pointing and shooting. In my mind this is, very clearly, an art form. So as practitioners of an art form, why not wear the label of artist?
I'm curious how others see this. Feel free to send me your comments!