A photographer never truly creates anything, only captures fleeting moments already there. Moreover Photoshop and digital editing have made it easier to enhance pictures. A few, including several artists (many of whom used photographs as guides for their own work), considered photography a purely mechanical process, produced by chemicals rather than human sensitivity. Others were of the view that photography was similar to other printmaking processes like etching and lithography, and no one argued that they were not art. Still, at large expositions, curators usually hung the photographs in the science and industry sections rather than with the paintings.
With the extensive passage of time, photography, as if like the presence of renaissance, spread across the world, including India. By the 19th century, India had already started suffering under the powerful grip of photography and the magical instrument called 'camera'. In those days, the processing and developing of films were a cumbersome and tedious process. Moreover, due its heavy costs and pricey affairs, very few lucky numbers could afford a camera. As such, beyond professional usage, it was beyond the reach of common man for personal purposes. The scenario started changing by the 20th century and the ongoing era, with more extensive coverage in both amateur and professional fields. The fact that everyone was busy processing their success and their work perfectly, somewhere down the line, the quintessence of photography as an art form lost its importance. It just became restricted to divisional photography, like its usage in weddings, births, gatherings and graduation ceremonies. Of late, the Indian photographers' association has gone neck deep into the argument, whether to consider photography as an art form or not. Just with argumentative discussions, people have become divided in their opinion - some speaking for it, and some against it. However, leaving aside these arguments and opinions, the fact stays that photography with its mind-boggling diverseness, is indeed an art form.
The humble camera is now the artist's brush in India. The artistic genre is booming because of its affordability and easy availability. A good photograph can be replicated into several editions, whereas, a painting has one original edition and limited reprints, which seldom fetch buyers. People in India are now more conscious of photography as an art form, because internationally the medium has gained open-handed acceptance. The awareness is trickling down to the country. As a common Indian individual understands art and artistry as a very high-ended topic to even grasp it thoroughly, one always has photography as an option to fall back on. Photography finds usage in a couple of artistic and aesthetic areas in the Indian context. For example, the wide-ranging employment of videography and cinematography in films and movies that amazes everyone in every shot one perceives. The mechanics, by which a video camera pans or narrows down a shot according to the film's needs, is simply breathtaking. The genres of films itself redefines the stylistic variations in cinematography as an art form. At a moment one can be astonished by breathtaking natural and landscape shot, at another time an old architectural shot can stupefy a viewer. Every genre, be it underwater, wildlife, portrait, food or black and white photography, the cinema is perhaps the best mode of expressing picturisation as an art form.
In order to propagate photography as a means of artistic expression in India, the Centre for Photography as an Art Form was established in Mumbai by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, with the help of a grant from the Ford Foundation. The Centre presents itself as the only institution of its kind in the country (and possibly in the whole of South Asia) that concerns itself with the self-expressive aspects of the photographic medium. One of the primary goals of the Centre is to create an awareness of and an interest in fine arts photography by providing the community with a comprehensive photographic resource and access to photographic information. This is evidence enough to prove that Indians have now wakened up to the fact that photography is not just a clicking of a camera and shooting a likeable panorama - it is much more than just that mundane definition. When one speaks about artistic expression, fine arts photography can never be held back. This is yet another field that quite triumphantly elucidates the secret of art in photography. The sheer beauty of a portrait, its look, its angle, every corner has a speech to speak by itself. This is where the skill of a cameraman lies - to bring out the emotion of a picture, even when it is mum.
War photography in India has been in operation since the times of World War I, and of course, the colossal period of Indian Independence. The black and white medium used in those days, the rise of women photographers, the viewpoint that was used to capture such heart-rending images, truly spoke a thousand words. The much later usage of colour photography in other genres like architecture, wildlife, food, fashion, brought with it a hoard of arguments. For example, people were sceptical about whether coloured medium could at all be considered as art in Indian photography.
These few genres were sometimes called much too modern and cosmopolitan to be included in aesthetic and artistic art forms. Nevertheless, with the growth of the mass market, and meticulous and perfect renderings of food or fashion photography, these too are looked at as art. Photographers are always saturated with ideas and ingenuity to make a photograph 'speak' by its own terms. And when this line is transcended - an admirer or onlooker does not require assistance of the creator to understand the underlying meaning, the work of art comes in a full circle. Photography is indeed an art form now.
The slow but steady recognition of photography in India proves the fact that it has gained acceptance as an art form. Fresh, newcomer artists every day are coming up with innovative ideas, and their romancing with the camera is highly evident through their work. As such almost every gallery in the country is lapping up their creations and stock usage.
(Last Updated on : 27-11-2014)