What is Art? I am not sure whether there is any definitive answer to that question. But I feel quite certain that any artist must try to answer. Shirking on this question is not an option.
Here are some more thoughts about what qualifies as art. I find it easier to use examples from music than from photography.
If I go to a shopping mall or cafe there will certainly be some background music to soothe me. It requires absolutely no effort from my side to follow. Neither do the radio shows we hear when driving a car.
I love Jazz. But it is really impossible to do anything else when I listen to John Coltrane or John McLaughlin. It requires full attention and efforts from me to listen. Art is interactive whereas entertainment is a one way road and is quite a bit manipulative.
It is worth staying with the distinction of interaction versus manipulation a bit longer. Art is about expressing an opinion clearly and forcing the consumer to make a judgement about this opinion. Art is about involving the consumer. Entertainment does not want to force a judgement, entertainment wants to please a maximum number of people and wants to distract the consumer, stop him from reflecting.
In photography it is very similar. The pretty sunset photo in your hotel room is meant to calm you down but not hold your interest. Compare this to Saul Leiters semiabstract impressions. They invite us to come back again and again.
I acknowledge that these criteria are not absolute and there are plenty great pop songs which were primarily meant as entertainment but which are so emotionally rich that they have huge artistic value. For me the Beatles‘ „Magical Mystery Tour“, Heroes del Silencio, Jacques Brel… come to mind