I've started my intro studio class about photography and video, so to get my feet wet, I just had crash course of youtube snippets of a host of photographers. What stands out for me is that there are a few main streams or concerns: stripping away the artifice of picture making = raw bare portraits and scenes, recreating a scene from memory or to evoke metaphor through a controlled photo shoot with actors and costumes and sets, using light as a main concern for picture making . . . which I think is an idea I get behind.
Coming from a painting background, I think this idea is something that's not too far removed from oil paint on canvas with except of course the difference that painters create the light (by putting dobs of coloured paint on a surface) and photographers capture the light (using light sensitive chemicals or digital wizardry). So at this very early point in my foray into photography (8 hours and counting), I think that a photograph is a thought in the form of captured light.
A side point that I think is interesting is that photography differs from painting or drawing in that it is repeatable (or at least more so). Not only in the idea of taking multiple frames in rapid succession but also the fact that you can make prints, resize them, alter them in post-production etc. The preciousness of the image is questioned in photography I think.
So my first assignment for this class is to make an image using photography that represents what I think makes a photograph art (as opposed to a document, advertisement, or photo journal). Already I have Richard Serra's voice in my head saying "art is purposefully useless."
Interesting things to think about indeed.