I've just started a thread on a photographic forum because of some of the discussions happening there, and thought it might be a useful conversation-starter here too:
There is a definite line of thought that suggests an image is only of value if it carries a deep and profound message, otherwise it might as well be not have been taken.
There is another line of thinking which sees value in the things the viewer finds pleasing and no value in the things they do not.
The tension between these is that both suggest images that they don't 'approve' of have no value, though the artistic side is a bit more vociferous about 'birds on sticks etc' than the non-artistic side (who usually label it in their heads as crap & move on somewhere they find interesting).
It can get difficult and confusing, because some will see a photo they find pleasing and call it art, leading to a desire to learn about 'art' only to realise that it is seldom pleasing and not what they want to take pictures of.
This leads to the obvious question: does being 'art' bring any more value to an image than the viewer finding they want to look at it?
I also wonder if, should an image actually draw people back for a second look, it may BE art, since presumably the image spoke to them enough to want a second look, though the message it presented may not have been a verbal/conscious one, other than "that's lovely".
I've been through this a little, and have happily settled the issue that I don't create and don't want to create art as I presently perceive it's understood, and can't be happier with my pictures than if people want to hang them on their walls.