Pedroesteban mentions a cardinal point in this thread. It is helpful to note that photography and art are not synonymous any more than painting and art are synonymous. Painting and photography are among the media from which artists may choose to create their work, and painters and photographers as painters and photographers are not the same necessarily as artists whose media are painting and photography.
I think distant.star (if I have the name correct) posted a relevant point early in this thread about having a an M.F.A. and a camera as opposed to having a camera without the degree. In the former instance, one could self-identify as an artist. In the latter, self-identification would be "just" as a photographer.
I would love to expand more, though some of what I might write would derive from and be rooted in what I wrote here in a thread a while back:http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=15734.msg288202#msg288202
I will add that, whether "just a photographer" (i.e., a self-identified non-artist) finds merit-technical or otherwise--in a photograph, whether "just a photographer" finds value in a photograph, or whether the same person derives pleasure from a photograph are not, per se, necessary, essential, or sufficient to the matter of status, classification, or appreciation (for example) of a photograph as an artwork.
My post here is severely limited (I need to get out of here and go to work!), but in conjuntion with the matter presented in the cited thread, it may be understandable why photographs as artworks may evoke incredulous reactions from members of the general public or society at large.