Photography is…

I am collecting views about what photography is.   This page lists those I have to date.   Please feel free to add your own sentance beginning “photography is…”

“…photography…is used alike by art and science, by love, business, and justice; is found in the most sumptuous saloon, and in the dingiest attic—in the solitude of the Highland cottage, and in the glare of the London gin-palace, in the pocket of the detective, in the cell of the convict, in the folio of the painter and architect, among the papers and patterns of the millowner and manufacturer, and on the cold brave breast on the battle-field.”

(Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, the wife of Charles Eastlake, the first President of the Photographic Society, The London Quarterly Review, April 1857)

“Photography is about attitude. It is the feeling of a place, or a conjunction off opposites, that concentrates the mind.”. Keith Launchbury, RPS Journal, April 2014.

“Photography is a bridge between science and art.   It brings to science what it needs most, the artistic sense, and to art the proof that nothing can be imagined which cannot be matched in the counterpoints of nature.”   (Ernest Haas)

Photography is the power of observation, and not the application of technology.   (Prerna Sharma)

“Photography is not art and painting’s not art, it’s whether the person whose doing it is an artist.”   (David Bailey 2013)

Photography is a bridge to something beyond the image.   (Greg Lucas, 2012)

Photography is a tool to get somewhere else.   (Mike Simmons, 2012)

Photography is humour.   (Lala Meredith-Vula, 2012)

Photography is a process of design.   (David J. Grimshaw, 2013)

Source: George Donnelly,

On 13 February 2013 I was stopped by police in Kathmandu for taking a picture that included a policeman (at a distance of 50 metres).   I was asked to delete the picture.


Photography is the art of real life.   (Jonathan Jones 2013)

“photography is also about meaninglessness–its apparently endless capacity to show us things that we do not want or need to see–and also about pain, because extremely powerful images can sear permanently into our consciousness.”

Go to "What Photography Is" page   Elkins, J. (2011) What Photography is, Routledge: Abingdon.

“Photography is good at showing what’s on the surface, it’s descriptive and has a strange currency and relationship with reality, but I’m interested in things I recognise that might be a little less obvious and perhaps hidden or even betrayed.  I like the possibilities that arise when pictures from discreet situations sit with others, strangely enough this often seems to make more sense than neat and tidy picture stories that we can often find in this history of photography.”    Ken Grant, No Pain Whatsoever, 2013

“Photography is becoming an obsession.”   Mick Statham

“Photography is not an intellectual pursuit – it’s intuitive.”   Ian Berry

‘Photography is the truth, if it’s handled by a truthful person’  Don McCullin

“Photography is subversive not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatises, but when it is pensive, when it thinks.”   Barthes (1980:37)

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