It's an age old question, but one that keeps coming up especially in this age of digital equipment, photography software, and social media. I'm often asked this question. Isn't taking a photograph just a click of the camera or the selection of a filter or slider in some software program? That, to me, is the perception that many have of what a photographer does to create a photograph.
To answer that questions, lets start with some basic definitions.
ART is defined as something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas of feelings.
FINE ART is defined as a type of art (such as painting, sculpture, or music) that is done to create beautiful things, an activity that requires skill and care.
Types of photography/photographers:
1. Those that take or produce snapshots, selfies, etc.
2. Those that are involved with photographing reality, such as, photo journalist, commercial/product photographers.
3. Those that are at liberty to alter, modify, or enhance reality and to tell a story or evoke an emotion.
In my opinion if you fall into No. 3 you're an Artist by definition. Just as a traditional artist uses a paint brush, pencil, palette knife, or medium as tools to create images, a photographer uses a camera, and a digital or traditional darkroom as tools to create images. Both require the imagination, skill and care to create beautiful things.
I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.