Looking for an interesting read? Check out Niall Benvie’s article in which he complains that nature photographs aren’t considered to be real art.
Yes, he’s right about that. I would rate animal photographs as the most kitsch genre of photography, with nature and landscapes coming in second.
One of the author’s points is that a painting of the same subject would be considered worthy of display in an art gallery but not a photograph, but I would point out that, even in the medium of painting, animals and then landscapes are considered the least worthy of being considered real art. If you visit any serious museum of contemporary art, you won’t see any paintings of animals or landscapes. Although yes, the genre is still popular in certain types of art galleries because there will always be rich people who like looking at landscape scenes on their walls (objectively, a landscape is a lot more pleasant to look out every day than the vast majority of what’s being pushed as contemporary art), and a painting is a more sophisticated way of showing off a landscape than a photograph. But at the more edgy and serious art galleries you would find in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, or the Lower East Side, you won’t find landscape paintings there either.
The golden age of landscape painting was in the late 1800s when guys like Albert Bierstadt showed off huge canvases of scenes from out West where few would have the opportunity to travel by themselves. Before airplanes, before motor vehicles, before there were very many roads of any sort, you had to get to those places on horseback. While Albert Bierstadt’s paintings are on display in the most prestigious museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, if you painted like him today, it would not be considered museum-worthy. The curators at the Whitney Museum would laugh at you. (Although Bierstadt-quality paintings would definitely sell for decent money at art galleries that deal in that genre.)