Photographs, the art of capturing a 1000 words in one single shot. The world of photography is not only mesmerizing, but full of history, meaning and outright beauty as well.
The source of the word ‘photography’ derives from the Greek ‘photos’, meaning ‘light’. ‘Graphein’ meaning ‘to draw’. The term ‘photography’ was first used in the 1830’s, however, its history goes back to 1717 when Johann Heinrich Schulze discovered that silver salts darkened when exposed to sunlight. He was then able to temporarily capture shadows. However, ‘fixing’ a photograph, or permanently capturing the image wasn’t invented until the mid-1820’s when Nicéphore Niépce managed to fix a photograph for the first time.
Fast forward to 1939, the year generally accepted to be the birth of photography, when Niépce's associate, Louis Daguerre introduced to the world the daguerreotype process. A process that only required a few minutes of exposure with clear and detailed results.
Since that moment, photography has continued to develop and today, there are hundreds of types of photography processes. Here’s just a few examples:
Invented in 1842, cyanotype is created using light sensitive iron salts. This process was commonly used to document plant specimens. The iron salts solution is painted onto a natural material or sheet of paper and left to dry. The plant specimen is then placed onto the material in direct sunlight for about 15 minutes. The paper is then washed in water for oxidation and the end result is a brilliant blue, or cyan, image.
Arguably the most common form of analogue processing - partially because it’s so accessible and partially because it’s more stable and less likely to turn yellow over time unlike its predecessor, the albumen print. Although gelatin-silver was developed in 1895, it has stood the test of time and today remains the standard black and with print type.
With the development of technology, so does the evolution of photography. Instead of using light-sensitive chemicals to capture an image, the digital process uses pixels that are embedded on a computer chip. The digital photography process has taken on an advancement of its own. Digital photography has become essential in the development of technology and today’s market has an expansive range of cameras from DSLR, mirrorless, compact cameras and not to mention, camera phones.
Although photography began as a means to document events, over time the medium began to take form and evolve into an artform. What’s particularly wonderful about photography is its versatility - it can not only act as a means of documentation but as a piece of art.
Fine art photography as a style came about when photographers began using the medium as a creative expression. To convey an idea or emotion, a concept that contrasts to photojournalism or documentary photography styles that acted as a visual account of subjects and ideas.
The wonder of photography is its versatility. There’s an abundance of photography out there, so you are sure to find something that fits your character, your preference in art and your home.
We’re seeing a renaissance in fine art photography over recent years - almost a reaction to camera phones and social media. More and more photographers are producing work using analogue processes such as cyanotype, monochrome gelatin-silver and even polaroid. Photographers are beginning to experiment with these processes and with it are producing some wonderful pieces of art.
If you’re just starting your art collection, photography is a great place to start. Like prints, photography is usually available in edition sizes, making the piece of art more affordable in comparison to paintings.
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