Digital Photography: A Question of Its True Nature





Up for debate

When discussing the true nature of digital photography, one question that is frequently asked pertains to whether or not this medium is fundamentally science or art; and while there is no answer which can be placed in the “unequivacal” category, the true nature of digital photography remains a topic that will probably be debated among photography enthusiasts of all skill levels for years to come. In view of this unsettled question, however, we at TPJaveton WebNet would like to contribute, based on our observations, to the discussion (debate?) in our own little way through the following paragraphs.

Here is a look at what we consider to be philosophical arguments that support both viewpoints:

Pro art

As an Art –- Many who consider digital photography an art view it as such based on that natural quality which allows (evokes?) an expression of emotion. They believe that digital photography is a continuation of the art of drawing or painting such that, in their eyes, digital photography is beheld as a painting in the sense that, although it does take accurate pictures of reality, there is enough room available for modifications through the various digital tools available today.

But even without the editing, many people still believe that digital photography is art because of the fact that it does take an artist’s eye to find a great subject of digital photography. The nature of digital photography as an art has something to do with the artist’s ability to express emotions and statements through visual subjects.

Supporters of the “artistic nature of digital photography” also argue their case by stating its ability to convey emotional messages through aesthetics. The beauty of each photograph, of course, needs also to be credited to the person taking pictures at any given moment; but those who argue strongest for the artistic nature of digital photography are the beholders who believe that the picture is seldom really what is seen with the naked eye, and as such, through the camera and computer, a person can alter any image in order to present it as what s/he wants to show.


Pro science

As a Science – Those who proclaim that science is the true nature of digital photography employs one argument, the basis of which is that photography, unlike painting, actually comes from something that already exists and not from a painter’s mind, emotion and ultimate expression on a canvass or other such medium. This can be very persuasive, especially since a photographer does not actually make photographs. He or she merely uses a tool and certain combinations of equipment to take them.

Another strong argument in favor of the scientific nature of digital photography is based on various types and manner of editing done by users, and adjustments that photographers make based on a series of steps that can be narrowed down scientifically. People who argue for the scientific nature of digital photography may reason that the same series of steps can be taken in order to achieve the same results every time; and are supportive of the belief that there is a certain quality of constancy about digital photography which renders it a science.

A beautiful paradox

Have we convincingly or conclusively resolved what the true nature of digital photography is? Of course not, even in view of arguments supporting science and art have been put forth; because this, like many other debates about the nature and origin of various phenomena, might remain unanswered for many decades to come; and since there appears to be no solution to this question, we must recognize that the true nature of digital photographyabout digital photography may always be a paradox. This means that although it can be considered as an art, it can also be considered a science.

So you may ask, exactly when is the paradox of the nature of digital photography solved? The answer could well be, it is solved when a person takes a digital photograph; because the true nature of digital photography lies in the hands of the individual who takes the pictures. The manner in which a person treats the process of picture-taking defines the nature of digital photography for him or her. It is not absolutely art nor is it absolutely science. The true nature of digital photography is a paradox; and which this might seem to be contradictory, it is somehow true.

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