Well, lets see...photography Jan 7, 1839, by a frenchman and an Englishman. It took until December (I think, don't quote me) for it get to NYC. SO- everything created in America before then was not art?
Eh- to each his own.
The 'is it art, or not' argument has been going on since the medium's invention. Some consider photography to be a mechanical and chemical means of recording reality with no artistic ends. Others that it is an ultimate form of expression.
Pictorialists tried making photographs look more artsy in the 1890s by manipulating gum-bichromate prints. We do it now with software.
What, I believe, separates a photograph from being mimetic or being Art (with a capital A) is the intention/impetus of the artist. Even the most beautiful portrait of a duke, king or queen was a commissioned painting, no more no less when it was originally created. It was not created for Art's sake. The fact that it looks beautiful it an attribute of the artist's talent and craftsmanship or whomever is responsible for the rendering of the piece.
The content of any said work of Art must express something beyond its aesthetics, the artists intentions.
By no means am I suggesting that these attributes are mutually exclusive, that a commissioned piece can never be considered Art, nor that an aesthetically pleasing image cannot be considered Art, I'm merely making a case for photography being a well suited medium for what some consider the goals of high-art, while also having the ability of being mimetic, in that it is able to reproduce a 'copy' of reality similar to other commissioned pictorial arts.
Didn't mean to sound too academic, or esoteric, I've just done my fair share of research and reading on the topic.