According to the Cambridge dictionary workmanship means:

the skill with which something was made or done.

Can we use workmanship in the following sentence?

The photographer took the photograph with the use of highest standard of workmanship.

Someone said it might be wrong to use the word workmanship because we take a picture and not make it, but I believe we actually make a picture by taking it!

3 Answers 3


It is possible, but it sounds a little strange. It would seem to refer to the practical process of developing and printing. Now that photographs are more often printed using inkjet or laser printing processes, there is no real technical skill involved. It is also "faint praise". The photograph is well printed, framed etc...(but lacks creativity)

So "workmanship" does not seem to be the correct word to use. "Skill" is a much better word. It also avoids the gendered language of "workmanship" You might also add "creativity", "artitry" since this is important for photography. You can talk about "technique", perhaps "finesse" or "expertise".

You can, if you wish, talk about the "technical qualities" in contrast to the "creative qualities" of the photograph.

If you want to talk about the photographer you might highlight his "professionalism"

  • Developing photos can be a very highly skilled and artistic process. Burn, dodge, all these things that you find in Photoshop... those were originally manual processes done by hand in the darkroom. I agree with your answer otherwise though.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 11:47
  • I think that's what I'm saying, It suggests fine technical skill in developing, rather than artistry...
    – James K
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 15:37
  • After your edit I agree completely.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 20:09

A photograph can certainly be a product of great skill, but "workmanship" is generally only used for the physical construction quality or skill of a tangible thing. That is, things that are physically constructed, fabricated, assembled, etc. It sounds quite strange to talk about a photograph's workmanship, unless perhaps it was developed by hand in a darkroom, but even then it's a stretch to my ear.

  • Thank you. What about workmanship on sculpture and workmanship on drawing? Which one does make sense?
    – a.toraby
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 9:08

I have a friend who specialises in street photography. He goes around Bristol with a Leica film camera and takes mainly black and white photographs of people in the street, sitting outside cafes, etc. He composes the shots expertly and develops and prints the films himself to a high standard. Often the subjects ask if they can buy a print. He can provide high quality prints on archive grade photo paper, in glass-fronted wooden frames made to a very high standard by a craftsman carpenter. I would happily say that a high level of 'workmanship' goes into these photographs, as well as considerable artistry.

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