Before I read any further into the course material, I thought it would be useful for me to consider what my own answer would be to the above question.
Initially, when I was given my first camera, it's sole purpose for me was to document my own experiences. Photographs for me were a collection of memories that I would be able to flick through in an album.
Today, photographs of special occasions, and places visited, are posted to social media sites for 'friends' to see. To say 'I was there' or 'we were there'.
However, particular images are chosen to decorate phone wallpapers, or even hung on home wallpapers. At this point I would start to consider the photograph as art. These images are chosen for their aesthetic qualities. They are displayed for the appreciation of others.
Furthermore, as I learn more about how to use my camera, the more I consider how to create the image. I am able to exert much more control in how the scene will be viewed. Changes in angle of view, the emphasis of the subject in the frame, the proportion of focusing, all contribute to my own interpretation and representation of what I see in the viewfinder.
Would a decorator be considered an artist? Afterall, his or her work is produced for others to appreciate it.
The paint brush is a tool, just like the camera is a tool. The photographer creates the photograph. The camera records the image. Just like the canvas records the image.