Photographic meaning is mutable. The same photo shown in a legal court as documentary evidence can be redefined as art when placed in a gallery.
But there are conventions. For example the photo as document needs to offer a realist aesthetic rather than say a painterly one, as the latter would undermine any perceived objectivity – fidelity to the referent. But very polished photos, where the composition is formal, can undermine its documentary value by being perceived as unauthentic. That is, sometimes we associate photographic authenticity with rough aesthetic presentation, and we don’t necessarily think of that approach as artistic or the products of it as art.
Would you agree?
For example, do you view this image as art or more documentary?