When you have an interest in photography, like I do, you tend to look at a lot of photographs. It’s natural, I think, to begin to form opinions about what you like and don’t like, what works for you and what doesn’t, etc. Eventually, you may find yourself asking whether certain photographs are “art” or not, or maybe if they are “good” or not.
I’m not even going to wade into that debate. As far as I’m concerned, you could doodle a stick figure on a cocktail napkin and call it “art” and you probably would be right, and the question of whether something is “good” or not is largely in the eye of the beholder.
But I will say for myself, having looked at a lot of photographs, a hallmark of the ones that stand out to me is that they tend to have a degree of nuance, subtlety, or sophistication in the way in which they communicate their message. Photography being a visual medium, it’s a bit hard to describe what I mean. But, by way of analogy, it’s kind of like the difference between the sentence
“Those mountains are pretty at sunset”
and the sentence
“Those crimson peaks stir my soul”
Okay, granted, neither of these sentences is a literary masterpiece, but the point I’m trying to make is that the second sentence (hopefully) communicates its message with more nuance, subtlety, and sophistication than the first sentence.
Photographs are like that too, except of course that the language of photography is visual communication rather than written communication. Some photographs simply are executed with more nuance, subtlety, and sophistication than others. It’s something to perhaps consider if you find yourself asking whether something is “art” or not, or whether it’s “good” or not.