Photography As ART

“Photography As ART” script shows how James creates his art using only light, camera, and optics, in addition to considerable logistical planning, technical experimentation, patience and dedication.

Photography As ART – FRAGMENTED – Scene 13

April 18 2017 - Photography As ART


Time lapse is a photography technique; in creating art it is also a photographer’s reality. There’s no telling how much time passes before all the ingredients that are needed gel, enabling a creative idea can be realized.

It was 1999 when Cleveland, the Muse for DOUBLE VISION, ALIENS, and FOSSILS, gave James fifty small oval mirrors, after he told her of his idea of photographing her reflection from collective of multiple mirrors.

Image 88 shows Picasso’s WOMAN BEFORE A MIRROR painted in 1932.


I wanted to visually depict the complexity of the female. I’ve always had a respectful fascination with the opposite sex since I was a young boy. I still remember when living in Holland, my Mother calling me “stop chasing the girls, and come home!” She startled my curiosity. It wasn’t inspired by Picasso, but I think that’s what he was aiming when painting his 1932 masterpiece GIRL BEFORE A MIRROR, in which he depicts the many facets of a woman’s beauty and personality. The Muse in FRAGMENTED is a kaleidoscope vision, multifaceted, not completely knowable or a perfectly delineated vision, yet recognizable.    

Image 89 shows the Muse in B/W FRAGMENTED, a medium shot portrait made on square and rectangular mirrors in tilts, pans, zooms, and in full. Image 90 shows the Muse full length in FRAGMENTED in tilts, pans, zooms, and in full.


It was in 2013 when the ingredients finally gelled. He had the Studio necessary for such a project, and it was that year when he found the perfect Muse in Jonie, sister of the fabulous artist and web designer, Madalina Iordache-Levay. He decided to call it the FRAGMENTED Series.

Although, I had the gift of fifty oval mirrors, my initial visual venture would use square and rectangular mirrors. We had a lot of fun. Sticky putty was used to position and angle several dozen mirrors onto one large base mirror. They had to be angled for the right reflection. Then, you’d hear one and another disengage and fall to the floor. By holding our collective breathe they all finally took hold and I was able to take the upper body B/W FRAMENTED and my favorite, the “piece de resistance,” the full length FRAGMENTED. We took a few more to wrap this session.

Image 91 shows color photograph OVAL FRAGMENTED of the Muse, Jonie, reflected by oval mirrors in tilts, pans, zooms, and in full.


Jonie, originally from Romania, was exploring other places to live in Europe. On her next visit to S Florida in 2014, other series takes were added using the oval mirrors.

Image 92 shows constructing the set. Image 93 shows Francisco Goya’s “La Maja Desnuda.” Image 94 shows working the set with the Muse, and  Image 95 is the MAGESTIC FRAMENTS.


END of Scene


The enlightened thinker, Benjamin Franklin, quoted “History is a tale, not of immutable forces, but of human endeavors.” This presentation of “photography as art” is his




The enlightened thinker, Benjamin Franklin, quoted “History is a tale, not of immutable forces, but of human endeavors.” This presentation of “photography as art” is his endeavor in art history by James. With the historical perspective of MAJESTIC FRAGMENTS in mind, he outlines where and how his artwork fits in with photography:

SHOW James talking and mix in his art photography as well as other photography, from a historical perspective, complimenting the topic being mentioned/discussed. Photographs will be selected from the list below to cover photographers from the 1830’s, through Descriptive Naturalism, Subjective Naturalism, Experimental Modernism, and concluding with Romantic Modernism towards the end of the 20th Century.


The Industrial Revolution began in the Nineteenth Century and brought about sweeping changes in industry, science, and philosophy, which has led towards modern life and our present age. Photography in its fast, factual, reliable, and replicable ability began as a technical accessory to this sweeping change. It was a true witness to transcribe accelerating historical events. At this early stage, the era of Descriptive Naturalism, photography was an entertaining and edifying instrument.

The interest in photography shifted near the end of that Century, when artists with cameras became determined to introduce the artist’s mind and master’s hand into picture taking. Between the 1880’s through the 1920’s photography became identified as Subjective Naturalism.

Experimental psychology came into prominence around the same time. It emphasized that willed experience, and this validated a photographic artist to interpret and transform a visual experience into an expressive subjective statement and meaningful picture. Art was introspective, subjective, an exclusively human endeavor based on the maker’s psyche.

The credo was not; press the shutter button, let Kodak do the rest. Although it is said that the Artist’s intention was asserted throughout the process, most of the transformation-manipulation occurred in developing and printing with methods more akin to painting, much like today where it occurs in the computer via software.

It should noted here that in the ever-increasing speed brought about by the digital age, image artists have doubled down on transformations by manipulations to the extreme. Today’s image artist primarily uses a camera to capture photos to transform them. A new image is produced using computer software, without any technical limits or restraints existing that exist traditional processes. The result, however fine in artistic intention, is less the product of a photographer and more the creation of what I call a compographer.

Even with photo-successionists (another name associated with Subjective Naturalist or Pictorialists) making painterly manipulations to photographs, mostly at the printing stage of the process, was thought of as combining the real and ideal in making the end product, while sacrificing nothing of the Truth. At the same time, they could claim their results to be “High Art” having been completed by the artist’s hand, as well as thereby being completely unique, overriding photography’s other Achilles heel of being reproducible.

I question that notion of Truth, in the objective form of the universal concept 2+2=4, in creating any individual/personal expression. At best, it is truth to oneself, and always subjective. In the Digital Age, the hand of the artist is equally in the hands of the programming scientist making the software algorithms, as it is in the artist’s hands using it. The saved final image will be unique, and endlessly reproducible.

My photography has an affinity for the Subjective Naturalist and today’s Compographer in their determination and the symbolism, however it is not in the pictorialism or digital style of either period. In whatever ways I apply camera, optics, lighting, and employ methods of pre-staging the end product, the personal expression, the process of making the Art is by photographic method.

The subjective individual sensibilities of Subjective Naturalism fell out of fashion when Stieglitz – an ardent advocate of photography as a fine art… in the 1920’s remarked “Claims of art won’t do. Let the photographer make a perfect photograph.” This new perspective brought on the rise of Experimental Modernism.

This period lasting into the 1970’s had two approaches: One followed by The New Bauhaus (Chicago Institute of Design), that was established by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in 1937. It introduced a new perceptual structure or “new vision,” as Moholy-Nagy coined it, allowing formal strategies of abstraction, fragmentation, and defamiliarization.

The other approach, followed by members of renown California Group f/64, viewed photography as “possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, or derivatives of any other art form.” In other words, a product without manipulation, pure, devitalizing the influence of the hand. Weston expressed the picture results when “feeling and recording are simultaneous. For me, this could be the definition of a “snap-shot.”

Be that as it may, in my opinion of the latter approach, both were defined by Gestalt Psychology, which emerged around the same time, and was a theory to formalizing human perception of art. This meant the art of photography was not subjective expression, but had the objective of making it universal for purposeful action, in order to create a balance for our social existence. The camera was the “third eye,” the utopian communicator between the practitioner and the viewer.

I can’t say exclusively that in this way photography established itself useful in advertising and propaganda, but practiced in this way it certainly seems to require an intrinsic power of persuasion, and ultimately the acceptance of the viewer.

The Gestalt “closure,” with respect to my “photography as art,” is that although my work is experimental, it not a visual manifesto with an aim to advance any social improvement or societal change, and it doesn’t seek to rise to expectations or please the “eye of the beholder.” It isn’t created by its observers. Eyes can see, but it doesn’t make the beholders “seers,” with all the extraordinary powers of visual literacy. Such powers may only be reached by dedicated study or in the endless pursuit of one’s career. My study, my pursuit is photography. My work is experimental (in part) by making photography about photography, but I’m not a Modernist, as this style is defined in the history of photography.

Romantic Modernism overlapped and followed in the latter 20th Century, and it’s here my “photography as art” finds its place. Call all I am expressing to you here now my manifesto; My artwork, on the other hand, is like a song, it is a visual literary imagism of the fanciful, mystical, whimsical, and legendary, confined within photography’s autonomy and purity; The purity of its capacity, not in its function as it is with Experimental Modernism.

I compare my art photography to a song, keeping in mind the concerns “C.P Snow” expressed in his 1959 lecture “The Two Cultures,” and the acknowledgment by Ansel Adams that photography relied in part on its scientific pedigree for the medium’s artistic integrity.

“C.P. Snow,” a British scientist and novelist, lamented that “the whole of Western society was increasingly being split into two polar groups: literary intellectuals, among which artists can be included. and the scientists, physical scientists in particular.” He felt the latter, including photography was largely devoid of art, with the only important exception of art of music.

With respect to Ansel Adams, an icon of the photographic medium: Even though he noted his (and Fred Archer’s) “Zone System” was not widely recognized in the scientific community, it was nevertheless for him one of the scientific applications that he included while making his photographic art. He practiced the stern discipline of camera technique, used it as a source of emphasis and divergence, apart from factual recording, and believed it gave rise to a more complete individual expression.

If music, as an art and science, is a universal language for the ear, my contention is photography, likewise a combination of art and science, is a universal language for the eye. I’ve noted before in my previous writings that the difficulty for photography’s acceptance as an art is due to its introductory simplicity. It is easy to determine one’s skills as a musician. Pick up a violin, attempt to play it, and 99.9% of us will quickly accept not being in the least bit musically inclined. Photography does not enjoy such a simple affirmation of visual ability. Anyone can easily pick up a camera and take a picture. I recall watching an ABC morning show, around 1987, were a blind photographer was interviewed that had an exhibit in a prominent New York Gallery. His girlfriend would point the way to shoot. What can be said about that?

We all can enjoy music, painting, sculpting, photography… the arts, but to master it in performance, as well as in full (critical) appreciation, requires an innate talent, dedication, education, and skill development, which for photography means mastering a visual literacy, which is not attainable by simply seeing. Additionally, in what I do creatively it helps to have skills and willingness to explore the magic of the medium’s technical possibilities.

There have been many, such as “C.P Snow,” that find photography incapable of being Art, but saying this does not make it so. In this regard, there’s also the color vs. b/w debate, were the latter considered to be the magic qualifier, but let’s leave that for debate. “Snow” had innate talent, dedication, education, and skills for being novelists. He and the many with this opinion may enjoy the visual arts, but it goes back to the “eye of the beholder” – do they have the prerequisite visual literacy to understand photography?

There is another famous novelist, Ayn Rand, who in her book “What Art Is” also negates the possibility of photography rising to the level of art. Based on what she wrote, on how she came to this conclusion, I agree with her. This excerpt from a book by the Aristos Foundation, taken from Chapter 9 “Photography: An Invented ‘Art,’ What photography Is” discusses her views:

Nearly all writers who analyze the nature of photography concur with Rand in emphasizing the limitations of the photographer’s role as compared to the painters. Since photography is, as she stated, a “mechanical means of reproducing whatever is put in front of the camera,” the photographer is constrained in both his choice of subject and his treatment of it. First, he can select his subject only from the actual objects and events accessible to him. Whereas a painter imaginatively “constructs” an image, [Susan] Sontag observes, a photographer merely “discloses” something that exists. In contrast with a work of art, which is created by its maker “on a ‘blank slate’ bit by bit over time,” the photographic image is formed more or less instantaneously, by the action of light on a chemically sensitized surface. The photographer–unlike the composer, painter, sculptor, or poet–does not select and shape every minute detail of the work. [p. 182]

I concur with this view. Nearly all photographs, including those by Ansel Adams, “discloses” something that exists. But you have to add he, as all exceptional photographers, did/do so with great “artistry,” which is due to his high level of visual literacy. Artistry represents the skill applied in taking a photograph, and the term Art can be applied in the production of making a photograph. I have many fine photographs, such as the Horses (in Iceland), Tango (in Buenos Aires), and Electric Miami Skyline that can be seen in my ARTISTIC STOCK collection… (found on my web site They are not “Art.”

“Photography as Art” is initiated by an original idea, then takes a ‘blank slate’ (a photo negative/file) on which to developed, artistically construct, and composed the idea (like a song) through the creative use of lighting, optics, and the camera, that is, the instruments of photography. This “Art” process is represented by my artwork I have presented, and in this way, I place it in the era of Romantic Modernism.

Art history has moved on. I think my work in photography can be considered an analog bridge, a precursor into the new digital age we’ve entered into. This new age is certainly open in the extreme to the artist’s hand and individual expression. It has yet to be fully explored and digested for its place in the history of the visual arts.

Most important, it has yet to be given its own identity. It is worth repeating what I expressed earlier: photographs in this new age are today a substrate, to be manipulated in a computer, with its scientifically invented algorithms (software), from where a new image is produced. In this way, it is no longer created (however amazing the image may be) through photographic means, and in my opinion, for clarity, should be so identified with an appropriate name.

You know, old movies through the 1950’s were credited as “Photographed by.” Today the Oscar for “Cinematography” goes to the proper name for those filming movies. In the same way this new digital image age can be called “compography as art,” for it is not “Photography as Art,” which is what my artwork genuinely represents.

I think this photograph, “Forest-Mount Rainier National Park, Washington,” a personal expression by renown photographer Ansel Adams, is meant to have us take a good look at, to discover something we commonly overlook. Whatever meaning, interpretation, and significance we ascribe, this photograph still “discloses” what exists, or in other words, a subject he did not create. This holds true for nearly all photographs taken.

Ghost of Chilmark Woods

My photograph “Ghost of Chilmark Woods” without the ghost, ghosting effects, dry ice, and with a new name, such as “Road down into the Chilmark Woods,” could alone have satisfactorily expressed one of my visual thoughts – what lies down this road beyond what we can see?

However, in addition to that visually depicted thought, I wanted to tell the mythical story that ghosts exist in the Chilmark woods. Is my photograph “disclosing” a real ghost? No, but it is an expression of what photo art is…


PS. “The End” always has the promise of a new beginning. James has another series in mind, coming from a photographic experiment made many years ago. He tentatively calls it “CRYSTAL RAINBOWS.” Here is a hint of what this series could be like; it is not inspired by any single painting by Georges Seurat, but a correlation can be made to his best-known artwork. Possibly, the process of this photographic adventure can be filmed from inception to its conclusion.


Meet the Muses

THE MUSES: Being an artist’s model is a difficult assignment. It takes trust, commitment, confidence, dedication, and more… They have to believe in the ideas, creativity, skill, and talent of the artist they are modelling for. They are often asked to pose under difficult and potentially risky conditions and/or circumstances. These artist models have been amazing as well as dazzling:

Ann plays her part in the Cabaret and the Illusions. The latter was a 10-year commitment. These photographs taken were often time consuming, or had to be repeated several times, and contingent on weather conditions, which was sometimes harsh. She’s an eleventh generation Martha’s Vineyard islander. Professionally she was a personal trainer to many celebrities.

Cleveland plays her part in Aliens, Double Vision, and Fossils. She approached me about modeling when I was taking a break on an assignment. Her intelligence, and her creative, effervescent personality were a definite attribute, as well as her reliability and willingness to participate in these visual projects. She now living in Connecticut with her husband and children.

Karen’s sweet home was Alabama, but she now resides in Florida with her son. She played her part in Streaked, Body Parts, and the Aurora wEos series, coming to the studio once, sometime twice a week, spending 3 to 5 evening hours, from 2010-2012, for experimenting and taking those final shots.

Jonie has a twin sister, but is shown here being made up for Fragmented, by her sister and talented artist Madalina, with whom she works as the technical guru in their Internet development company. Born and raised in Rumania she now lives in London.

Who will be the Muse interested in being part of the final series, Crystal Rainbows, planned to be filmed and included as part of this documentary “Photography as Art?” Be part of art history…contact me!





Edward S Curtis – Native Land of Native People

Vivian Maier – Street photographs

Philipp Halsman, Brassai, Helmut Newton and others.



Location shooting for this video/film could be considered and provide interesting and beautiful scenic additions. The two locations for ‘photography as art’ were Martha’s Vineyard and James Schot Photo Studio in Fort Lauderdale. WINTER WONDERLAND is scheduled to be photographed in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado around Maroon Bells. 


An addendum having a brief description of other selected ‘photographic as art’ pieces of interest will be added to this script in the future.


This is an edited initial draft of the script “Photography as Art.” I am looking for interest in making this video/film in the form of talented production collaborators and art patrons interested in assisting with resources as needed for this project.

6] Some of the Books of Influence on my bookshelf:

The ART of PHOTOGRAPHY 1839-1989 – Catalogue edited by MIKE WEAVER with Photographs selected by DANIEL WOLF

SEE THE LIGHT – photography-perception-cognition – BRITT SALVESON

the oxford companion to the photograph – edited by Robin Lenman

The Art of the American Snapshot 1888-1978 – From the Collection of Robert E Jackson

The Origins of America Photography – 1839-1885 From Daguerreotype To Dry-Plate

The Hallmark Photographic Collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Still Moving – The Film and Media Collections of The Museum of Modern Art – 2006

Color and Meaning – Art, Science and Symbolism – John Gage

The Master Guide to PHOTOGRAPHY by Michael Langford

Light – Science & Magic – An Introduction To Photographic Lighting – Fil Hunter & Paul Fuqua

PHOTO/GRAPHIC DESIGN – Interaction of Design and Photography – Allen Hurlburt

THE SCIENCE OF ART – Optical themes in western art from Brunelleschi to Seurat – Martin Kemp

Moholy – Vision in Motion – L Moholy-Nagy

Focus on SPECIAL EFFECTS – Creating Pictures that Exist Only in Your Mind – Don and Maria Carroll

VISION AND ART – The Biology of Seeing – Margaret Livingstone




Outstanding SPECIAL EFFECTS PHOTOGRAPHY on A Limited Budget – Jim Zuckerman

Professional Photographic Illustration Techniques – Kodak

Pro Lighting GLAMOUR SHOTS – Roger Hichs and Francis Schultz

How to Photograph WOMEN Beautifully – J Barry O’Rourke

The VIEW CAMERA – Harvey Shaman

Secrets of STUDIO STILL LIFE Photography – by Gary Perweiler

A Primer of Visual Literacy – Donis A. Dondis

Professional Photographic ILLUSTRATION – Kodak

LIGHTING SECRETS For The Professional Photographer – Alan Brown, Jon Braun, Tim Grondin

The Photographer’s Guide To Using LIGHT – by Ted Schwartz and Brian Stoppee


THE BODY EXPOSED – 150 Years Of The Nude In Photography – Edition STEMMLE

THE NUDE by Kenneth Clark

THE MANUAL OF NUDE PHOTOGRAPHY – Jon Gray & Michael Busselle

VISUALIZATIONS – The Nature Book of Art and Science by Martin Kemp

COLOR THEORY – Jose M. Parramon

PHOTOGRAPHY – Upton and Upton


The Photographer’s Handbook – John Hedgecoe & Alfred A. Knopf

WORDS OF LIGHT – Theses On The Photography of History – Eduardo Cadava

LIGHT – Michael I. Sobel

EXPOSURE Photo Workshop by Jeff Wignall

CRISIS OF THE REAL – Andy Grundberg


Photo SPEAK – A Guide to the Ideas, Movements, and Techniques of Photography, 1839 to the Present – by Gilles MORA

SUBLIMINAL Ad-Ventures IN EROTIC ART – Wilson Bryan Key, Ph.D.

VISUAL THINKING by Rudolf Arnheim

THE END OF ART THEORY – Criticism and Postmodernity – by Victor Burgin

PHOTOGRAPHY A Concise History – Ian Jeffrey


NUDE PHOTOGRAPHY -Masterpieces From The Past 150 Years – Peter Cornell Richtet

LIGHT – Introduction to Optics and Photonics 2nd Edition – Judith Donnelly and Nicholas Massa