Influence of Photography on Reality
A young man peers into a screen attached to a box that projects its image through a small lens. It is the 17th century and the artist Johannes Vermeer is preparing to paint another image based on a reflection of reality though a box. Today billions of people around the world peer into boxes with projected light and receive a different reality with images created through photography that has affected the world in many ways. Photography has become more and more accessible to the general population. For much of its technological existence, photographing was only a luxury for the wealthy. Eventually the common man could afford cameras and take pictures although these usually remained confined to a small family or friend group. It was not until the last decade or so that everyone could attain cameras, with most having them on their phones, and shared them among a vast social network creating a profile based on the everyday image. As photography has improved during the last two centuries, it has affected the way we perceive reality.
The first camera ever invented was the camera obscura, invented by Joseph Nicephore Niepce. Originally the camera obscura was a box with a hole in one side. Light would shine through that hole and project an image onto paper inside the box. Prior to Neipce artists used the camera obscura for viewing or drawing purposes. It was not possible to make permanent photographs from the device. Neipce placed a plate with bitumen on it in the camera obscura and the first photograph was created (Bellis). This first image took 8 hours to create and later faded. Eventually, a photograph called the daguerreotype was produced. This first image did not fade and only took up to 30 minutes to create. As cameras improved, exposure time was shortened (Daguerre, 15).
These early cameras and images they took only recorded what the photography placed before it. They were not manipulated by any post photographic process. The reality was what was on the paper. The best example of this reality in photographs was taken during the civil war. Written in the New York Times in 1862 about an exhibit of the photographer Matthew Brady, “Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it” (Niiler). A new reality never before seen was brought to the larger public and changed perceptions because of the power of photographs.
Photography was originally only a luxury for the wealthy because it was very expensive and involved a strenuous process of both taking film photos and then developing them. This was done using developing agents, acids, salts, photo baths, and red lights (Kodak). Cameras continued to improve and the processing of the film, although still laborious, became less time consuming. Many cameras were made but Kodak is the only brand of...