Philosophy Interesting article about photographic expressionism.


Based on my photographic "background" with press, add and documentation free-lancing in the 90s, I have pondered a bit upon photography as art over the last three to four years and dabbed a bit with abstracts and such. Not that I have reach enlightenment, to the tune of berets, black turtlenecks and tuberculosis, or any deep understanding of it, but at least I have found that it is more to the topic than "Fine Art Photography", whatever that may be, other than long exposure B/Ws...

Anyhow, I stumbled over THIS article on the topic with a short history of Photographic Expressionism that I found to be a good read, its a brief summary of that particular branch of photography, with enough information to dive deeper into the topic. I thought I would share it with the community here, hopefully some of you will also find it entertaining. :drinks:


Why must we create classifications at all? Should not a great art image - photograph or not - be able to stand on its own and engage the observer? In the end, I suppose it may serve a purpose to find others interested in the same types of images. Yet I think it also limits both artists who create and potential viewers of the imagery, but will ignore either opportunity if it is labeled in a way that does not fit a preconceived notion. And leads to endless discussions of what fits inside which labels. Not to mention the eternal debate over what is a photograph versus what is art and where does it cross the line, if there is one.

John King

Member of SOFA
Beaumaris, Melbourne, Australia
John ...
Jens, pretty much every photo here that I give a gold trophy to engages me as art. Mostly, they have to demonstrate to me some technical mastery of the craft (art?), as well as engage me as to subject. Generally, they also demonstrate good framing and composition of form and colour.

I agree with Walter (@wee-pics ) regarding Harald Mante's Bauhausian comments, which Harald Mante expounds exceptionally well in his "The Photograph : Composition and Colour Design".

William Lewis

Eau Claire, Wisconsin
William Lewis
Interesting article, thank you for sharing it.

The Photo-Secession group was an important step forward but, and I think it's obvious to people here looking at my images, I have more appreciation for Group f/64 instead. Now, to be sure, they were hardly straight photography, but I find their aesthetic appeals to me more. As John says, framing and composition whether in shades of color or shades of grey are what matter in the end. (There are a million shades of grey and only two are black and white, but I digress.) That composition that you or I may find appealing will get a Meh from someone else. Or a photo you think is, "eh" might get a wow from that other person.

I take snapshots for me. When they work for someone else, only then are they no longer snapshots but art.


"I take snapshots for me. When they work for someone else, only then are they no longer snapshots but art."

I quite agree with you William, though I definitely would not consider most of my snapshots that please someone else as art. But for those few that come out really great and that approach what we see as art I can lean back and enjoy. A really great photo remains a great photo for all ages and rather independently of people's tastes.

With music it's different: I have to prove that I'm really good in each concert anew. Sometimes I touch people's hearts in a magic way even I can't comprehend, I just see all these happily smiling faces in front of me. At other times nervousness wrecks it for me. Yet not necessarily for the audience as well, as they don't know how my tunes 'ought to be played'. Then somehow this special 'spark' does not want to get carried over the edge of the stage into the audience and I feel tense. Luckily for me this happens very seldom. But I know that even great artists like Joan Baez and the piano player Margarethe Argerich suffered from this. So now when I get this feeling I say to myself: What the heck, there are thousands who are better than you, but there are thousands as well who are worse.


First, I would like to thank @JensM for sharing this. It leaves me with a great starting point for some research.

While I somewhat agree that there shouldn't be a need to have a title/genre/name/whatever, in practice it is simply necessary. As curators, collectors, students, etc. need something to point to, to at least coalesce some understanding. I have been using Abstract Photography for my work, but Photographic Expressionism works as well. And maybe sounds a bit more inline with the greater Fine Art World.

Which brings me to my Photographic Expressionist work. I don't share it much on here, but I will try to rectify that going forward. Especially as I have been chosen for a gallery show this summer. I will be displaying somewhere between 20-30 images for the month of June in downtown Knoxville. I greatly appreciate the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville for giving me this opportunity. Maybe, at least in my small part of the world, there are some curators that see value in this type of photography.

As soon as the anxiety of it all wears off, I will go to creating some more works for the show. In the meantine, I am going to look up some of those artists listed in this article.