Photography Careers Background
In the photographic process, images are produced by exposing light-sensitive chemicals called silver halides to light. The more light these chemicals are exposed to, the darker they become. After the silver halides are developed and fixed, a negative image is produced. The negative image, which is usually made on film, is then itself exposed to light. The light that passes through it creates a positive image on paper or film containing silver halides. The result of this second exposure is the final photograph.
Some of the theory that makes photography possible has been known since ancient times. The camera obscura, a darkened chamber in which images were projected by letting light enter through a small hole, was known as early as the time of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. In the 17th and 18th centuries, various scientists found that silver nitrate and silver chloride darkened when they were exposed to light. In spite of these findings, however, it was not until 1827 that the first photograph was produced by the French physicist Joseph Niepce. In 1829, Niepce went into partnership with Louis Daguerre, who continued to experiment with photography after Niepce’s death and ultimately invented what became known as the daguerreotype process. Daguerre reduced the time required to create an image from eight hours to 30 minutes, and he discovered that the resulting image could be made permanent if it were immersed in salt.
Daguerre’s process, although expensive, became extremely popular. People found it exciting that those without drawing or painting skills could create an image by using a chemical process. The new popularity of photography led various people to invent cheaper and more efficient processes. It soon became possible to create multiple copies of a photograph, which was something that the Daguerreotype process could not do. In a relatively short period of time, the profession of photography became commercially viable, since many people wanted to have portraits and other photographs made.
Motion-picture photography was invented in 1890 by Thomas Edison, who constructed a kind of camera that would expose the roll film that was first marketed in 1889 by George Eastman, the inventor of flexible film and the Kodak box camera. In a short period of time, the entirely new art form of motion pictures came into being and gained a wide audience.
Although photography became popular soon after its invention, it was not viewed as an art form until much later, after a succession of great photographers had demonstrated the photographic medium to be flexible, immediate, and expressive. Many early critics of photography believed that it was, by its very nature, shallow and narcissistic, and some critics even viewed photography as satanic.
One of the many photographers who contributed to the development of photography as an art form was Mathew Brady, who, along with other photographers, documented the American Civil War. He created works of tremendous power, recording the horrors of war in a way that had not been done before. Some of the many important photographers of the 20th century were art photographers, such as the Americans Ansel Adams, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, and Alfred Stieglitz, and the French avant-garde artist Man Ray. The field of photojournalism was pioneered by such important figures as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Margaret Bourke-White, and Alfred Eisenstadt.
Cameras and photo processing have changed dramatically since the advent of computer technology. Most cameras manufactured today are battery-operated and allow nearly foolproof picture taking by automatically setting shutter speed, lens aperture, and focus. One of the most important developments in recent years is digital photography. In digital photography, instead of using film, pictures are recorded on microchips, which can then be downloaded onto a computer’s hard drive. They can be manipulated in size, color, and shape, virtually eliminating the need for a darkroom. In the professional world, digital images are primarily used in electronic publishing since printing technology hasn’t quite caught up with camera technology. However, printing technology is also advancing and even amateur photographers can use digital cameras and home printers to shoot, manipulate, correct, and print snapshots.
Photographs are also being combined with other media in new ways, and it is likely that this trend will continue. The Internet has provided a new arena for photographers and other artists. New technology makes it possible, for example, to broadcast full-length features on the Internet, and photographers and cinematographers will have to both adapt their techniques and find new ones in order to use the Internet effectively.