Photography as a Commodity Argumentative Essay

A look at the argument that photography should be viewed as a commodity and not as art.
# 146372 | 2,859 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2010 | US
Published on Dec 26, 2010 in Art (Photography)

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This paper examines how the never-ending controversy surrounding the perception of photography as a work of art and not a work of science has been in existence since the invention of photography in the 17th century. It serves to highlight the transition of the chief role of photography from the world of art to the world of advertising and present considerable evidence as to how the financial implications can undermine the respect that photographs receive within the world of art. Specific ideas from the late Walter Benjamin relating to the ways in which photography can be shaped by society provide extensive concluding support to the overall argument for removing the modern-day photographic commodity from it's un-welcomed position within the world of art.

From the Paper:

"Green's attempt to summarize the methodical styles in which photography record the world is described as three separate purposes. The first purpose, Family Pictures, brings about the idea of a family portrait. A sociological norm, the family portrait has become a fixture in the modern household as a means of portraying the family's development and growth. To not have a family portrait would convey an abnormal sense of division amongst the family members, which may raise sociological concerns. Thus, the family portrait becomes a normal household requirement, just like paying taxes or cutting the grass. It is at this level of sociological regulation that the family photograph becomes not an art, but a commodity that ensures the smooth development of the family. Just like a college degree for each child ensure proper education was had, the photo of the smiling family, all dressed up in new clothes, acts as a method of reassurance to the relatives unable to visit the family in person. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books, 1968.
  • Green, J. "Photography as Popular CultureJournal of the University Film Association". Vol. 30. No. 4 (1978), [pg.15-20], (accessed December 15, 2010).
  • Laura Gilpin, "Big Bed-Tiny Tot." U.S. Camera 1943
  • Hafner, K. "A Photo Trove, a Mounting Challenge." New York Times, April 10, 2007,
  • Winogrand, Garry. "Marilyn Monroe, "Seven Year Inch" set, New York City." 1960. (accessed Dec. 16, 2010).

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"Photography as a Commodity" 26 December 2010. Web. 02 July. 2022. <>