With respect, Ed, I vehemntly disagree.
I think “imagery” created with photographic technology need not be consdered, and is not essentially, a photograph; certainly not in any conventional sense in which photographs are either viewed or valued; the tools and technology used to create them notwithstanding.
The tools are, in fact, immaterial. As I’ve said many times before, a good photographer (commercial, editorial, or art) can make a gorgeous photograph with a pinhole piercing an oatmeal box and a piece of film (or a CMOS chip) Scotch-taped inside. It’s not only what the photograph represents, both physically and in a story-telling sense, that makes it a photograph, or not, in the first place.
Consider that an entire generation of young people has never fucking seen an actual photograph. Not even looking at an Irving Penn or Ansel Adams (or name a Pulitzer Prize-winning news shooter) image on a screen is the same experience as to behold a photograph. The texture and tonality of a physical print, not to mention its method of presentation and whether or not it includes the provenance and exclusivity of a signature, can only be compared with, but not equated with, its on-screen simulacrum. A photograph is a physical thing, not an image. It’s not the subject matter alone that makes a photograph; although, of course, no photograph, generic imagery notwithstanding can exist with a subject.
I’m not splitting hairs. If you want to see the Mona Lisa, you’ve got to go to the Louvre. In the context of usage, even great photographs reproduced in books and magazines are only the simulacra of the actual photographs they represent. But their audience is presumed to be sophisticated enough to know that these are representative of prints they may, one day, see at a physical presentation. So we still legitimately refer to them as photographs.
I dare say there is no expectation of looking at pixts as anything but, as I said, on-screen pictorial chit-chat with no other use whatsoever. It is the context of a photograph’s use, or, if you prefer, its influence that refers the viewer to the fact that there is something more to these kinds of images that meets the eye by merely looking at a screen.