Keith Snell: “But is it Art?”, September 23rd 2020

On Wednesday 23rd September Keswick Photographic Society’s members enjoyed a presentation given by one of their own members, Dr Keith Snell. The title of the talk was “But is it Art?”. Keith began by explaining that while in America photography was treated as an art in Britain this was not generally the case.  He therefore set out to persuade the audience that some genres of photography are indeed art.

Keith began by examining the differences between art and photography. He said that photographers generally just capture reality and detail while an artist starts with a blank sheet. However, Keith argued that there is a more artistic side to photography. Concentrating on how artistic effects can be achieved in the camera he looked first at how photography can be used to present objects in a graphical way. He used a number of his own images to illustrate this point looking at patterns and abstracts in both the natural and manmade world.


Next Keith described how he creates moods such as isolation, independence, infinity and hope in his landscape photographs.

His next subject was figurative art. While photographs are often just a likeness Keith demonstrated that moods such as contemplation, wistfulness, preoccupation, dejection and distraction could be portrayed if the photographer carefully chose appropriate lighting and poses for their models.

After a short interval Keith looked at the development of impressionism in photography initially by using multiple images.


He then looked at the use of intentional camera movement.


To illustrate the effect of these techniques, Keith showed examples of his own work, as well as that of others, including impressionist images of trees and water that he had taken both locally and abroad.


This was an entertaining, inspirational and informative evening illustrated by a selection of Keith’s sublime images that would not have looked out of place in any art gallery. By the end of the evening there seemed no doubt that some photographs, including the many examples shown by Keith, could be categorised as art.