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 painter's. 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]
What Art Is Online is a supplement to What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand by Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi (2000). Copyright is held by the authors.