The Genius of Photography
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The Genius of Photography

2007, Art and Artists  -   27 Comments
Ratings: 7.53/10 from 45 users.

The Genius of PhotographyIn the course of our 170 year relationship, photography has delighted us, served us, moved us, outraged us and occasionally disappointed us.

But mainly, it has intrigued us by showing the secret strangeness that lies beneath the world of appearances. And that is photography's true genius.

Follow the story of photography in BBC Four's six-part series The Genius of Photography. See some of the most famous photographs ever taken and find out more about what made them so very special.

The series explores every aspect of photography from daguerreotype to digital, portraits to photo- journalism and art to advertising, and includes interviews and encounters with some of the world's greatest living photographers including William Eggleston, Nan Goldin, William Klein, Martin Parr, Sally Mann, Robert Adams, Juergen Teller, Andreas Gursky, Jeff Wall and many others.

Episodes are: Fixing the Shadows, Documents for Artists, Right Place, Right Time?, Paper Movies, We Are Family and Snap Judgements.

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27 Comments / User Reviews

  1. sadi

    Dracu, seems like you have photography all mixed up with something else. To dismiss a discipline like photography as 'not art' is perhaps to not understand that photography does not have to be compared to other art forms. Its is own beast you see, with its own emphasis, dialogue and artistry. Of course its not painting, but you see, not all of us artists have the time for paint and brush. For the sort of images I want to make, I need the camera, not the canvas.

  2. Haywardini

    I wouldn't say it is super easy to tak whats considered a great photograph. With SLR cameras being introduced more control was given to the amatuer photographer. Controlling your aperture, shutter speed and exposure can be used to create artistic effect. I you understand the science of the camera and light you can gain a much clearer insight into how the photograph will look. I feel digital takes this away as its cheaper and all photographs taken are up for instant review. Film forces you to slow down your photography and think hard about what you are taking photos of. Part of the artistic ability of a photographer is to decide to press the shutter when the moment is right. Art is 5% skill and 95% subjective. Everything depends on what your audience think of it. As long as your photographs mean something to you and you are not just taking pictures of meaningless things, it's art.

  3. pusspussbangbang0555

    I want to see all of this documentary, but ut seems to be blocked by theBBC in france shame ,it looks interesting

  4. pusspussbangbang0555

    Dont bother with Veoh, it is a **** site full of ads, and completely useless gra&phics which direct you to nothingville, this site should be binned as 3what a ******* waste of time"

  5. Guest

    Photography allows one to stop time for a fraction of a second....and allows one to look at that slice of time for ever.

  6. Hugo Couturier

    Eyes. Everybody has at least one of those and they all look the same in a broader sense. But when you get closer, you see colors, shapes, patterns, depth, light, lack of light...
    Some are beautiful while some lost their beauty to sickness or physical damage. Still, to most, the mere fact that this organ perceives light and transmits it to nervous cells is something beautiful in itself.

    The beauty of an eye can be interpreted in many ways. Photographs are exactly like that. They all have this little something to them, but their beauty is quantifiable. Although in a different manner by each one of us, the inherent quality of photography is nonetheless quantifiable. Political rectitude will never change that fact.

  7. Jo Tito

    I am not a trained photographer but have been doing photography for 17 years. I use my camera on auto ALL of the time but I must say you do have to have the ability to see light and to compose a good photograph. Today my work is very intuitive and over this year I've painted a stone, photographed it and then posted it online. It does help when you are taking photos all the time - it is definitely something to master and is now a part of my life where I see everything in a photograph!

    1. Guest

      cool FB rock tatooing! I too enjoy photography.

  8. knowledgeizpower

    I love photography. Some people have a real artistic eye behind the camera, others have that artisic beauty in front of the camera. How can anyone be a bad photographer when you think about it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How can you take a bad picture? You can find something different that you admire in each frame each shot. When you capture the picture you capture something different each time not one photo is exactly the same.

  9. Lorena White

    Can I put in two cents worth...A question;

    After enjoying a beautiful meal, would you then say to the cook “You must have a really good oven, that food was delicious!”?

    All of us posses a creative mind some more than others, good photography is an art that not all are able to master or understand, but some are able to capture. Photography rocks my world, I think in this angle of fine Art, you’ve either got it, or you don’t.

    1. pusspussbangbang0555

      Yeah, a bit like playing the ukelele at a Nirvana reunion convention. I've done it and the kids loved my version of "Smells like Teen Spirit" done Hawaien style!!

  10. Dracu,

    I don't mean to say that photography doesn't have any intrinsic artistic value(beside its main informative role) but compared with other forms of art it is extremely overrated(as it is presented in this documentary) and effortless.
    My subjective and disrespectful opinion is that it seems a self-praise to consider yourself an artist when you just press a button and mirror reality...this form of art is more conditioned by the present reality(like any other form of conceptual art) than by the artists conscience which gives its true value.

    1. Emily Blanchet

      There are many ways to take a beautiful photo and many details that going into making one. It is not incredibly easy to take a good one either.

    2. Dracu,

      You're right, it isn't incredibly easy, but like I seen in this documentary a good photo depends very much on chance and being in the right place, at the right time. You can setup the environment and the persons in it but that is just like setting up're still limited by what you have in front of the camera.
      I have a theory that if a lay person does 1000 pictures a day very few of those pictures will be good only by chance. I also assume that nobody will say that that person is an artist.

      Anyway, if you compare photography with painting you'll have the essence of my perspective.

    3. popopo93

      Surely the portrail of reality in an interesting isn't easy and takes skill? You have to have an artistic mind to know what would make a good photo before taking it. If you just take random photos throughout the day you will probably come out with a few that are good, but to be a good photographer you can't just chance it like that. Would you not consider artists like Marcel Duchamp artists as all he did was find object that are 'readymade' and sign them to turn them into art? It's such an outrageous statement.

    4. Debra Troyanos

      As a professional photographer and teacher, I couldn't disagree with you more. In fact your comment of "just pressing a button" is equivalent to saying chef is only a good cook because he knew how to turn on the oven. Good photography, not snapshots as taken by the general public, requires a great deal of skill in understanding composition and light, as well as artistic creativity. This misconception is often stated by other artists, such as painters. However, shame on them for not understanding what creative decisions go into making a work of art come from the artist, not their paintbrush, or canvas or other media.

    5. Dracu,

      I'm sorry for being disrespectful in my comment, this are my subjective opinions, I'm not an art critic or have any formal training in that direction, but, as a consumer, I'm still not impressed. I meant to say effortless in the sense that everybody can do it(whatever the decisions and preparations are, the creativity of the artist is still limited by the pressing the button at the right time and reflecting the physical reality), similar(as availability) to electronic music which seams a better analogy than cooking. I like both photography and electronic music but, as I said, in our age of shallowness they are extremely overrated.

      I accept the fact I may also be superficial in my perspective but I can't have much respect for the readymades or conceptual art...and there are few things as grotesque as paying 3 million dollars for a print.

      Again, I'm sorry if I offended anyone, I didn't know people had this kind of personal and strong opinions on this subject:)

      All the best...

    6. rightonhappy

      With alll due respect to you, art is only art to anyone who conciders it to be art and would use it in such a manner.Every1 is different in what they concider art. I am a painter, a photographer, and many other artistic things. But I do not consider art a skill, I consider it an emotion. But those are my opinions.

      It is also my opinion that you as a teacher should be able to teach someone without putting them to shame and trying to make them feel bad for their opinion.

    7. Guest

      Effortless? Did you really say effortless?


      I would like to disagree here as well. It is not as easy as just pressing a button. A photo has nothing to do with reality. It is always a choice by the photographer what to show you. With analogue photography I have many choices to make how to process the photo which takes time and skill to come to a result. Pressing the button is just a really small part of the complete process. Everything leading up to it and all the steps after can make a photo into fine art. This goes for analogue photography as well as for digital photography. Art is about choices being made by the artist. Not about the technology used.

      I am not offended I like a good bold statement but I wanted to share my point of view as well.

  11. Winston Smith

    This website is simply the best! ... And I watch most of my media here. Not only do you provide the best new documentaries as they appear online and put them all in one place but you allow truly free and open discussion of all issues that come up.
    You guys rock!!

  12. Remco Gerritsen

    I myself am a photographer of nature and incidents. I love photography, it's the best hobby in the world:) Totally watching this docu then:d If it works xD

  13. Teamtigerpaw

    Thanks for this one Vlatko.

  14. Guest

    Super doc! more than just photography!
    Not quite done yet but so far my favorite quote:
    "you know when you press that shutter whether that visual orgasm has occured or not"
    (didn't catch the guy's name)

    1. Guest

      Yes, I do know the feeling.

  15. esmuziq & frames

    dope docu !!!!

    u should post water & power aswel

    1. Guest

      see Contact above.
      You can send a suggestion to Vlatko.