It always strikes me funny how adamant most pro photographers are about realism or naturalism in their photographs, yet at the same time they use tricks and tools at their disposal to tweak their photographs. There is not a pro photographer I know that does not at least do some manipulation within their photograph whether it be to add sharpness or enhance the contrast. We also know that the camera uses algorithms to interpret the scene when shooting in JPEG mode, or the photographer interprets the scene when shooting in RAW. By definition this makes photography an art, not a science.
The question then is not is this a realistic photograph, but where is the subjective line. It is ridiculous when self-professed professionals draw their subjective line to say what is good photography and what is not based only upon their experience or supposed photographic rules.
Art is by definition the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
My opinion is that photographs do not need to follow the rules or be "realistic" according to someone's judgment to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. Of course, just like in any other branch of art, there are innate gifts and learned skills that can be implemented to create more of an impact.
I call my photography "Photo Art" because I want people to know that my final prints are very distinctly a type of art. They are manipulated just as a painter manipulates paint onto a canvas. I, also, am not trying to please anyone else with my art but myself. It just so happens that others appreciate my art as well, and I have made prints available.