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The War On Photographers – Part 1 Of 5

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The Foundation of Photography

I’m not going to grumble about the recent changes in photography that have brought about the current economic hardships for photographers. Things change. Rant and rave all you want, and while it might make you feel better, it won’t change anything in the photography industry. Don’t forget, that when photography came into being it devastated a current industry of Creatives.

When photography was introduced, this new medium was a big threat to painters and illustrators. They suddenly had competition, and people loved photographs. Illustrators and painters were hit hard. A lot of work was shunted over to photographers, and the Creatives using pen, ink and paint had to adapt in order to survive.

For several years now photographers have been hit hard too, as the industry was digitized. The ability to post photographs online lets a lot more people see your work, but it makes it so much easier to steal. Combine this with everyone uploading their cell phone photographs and people’s lives became flooded with photographs, which reduced their perceived value. The final nails in the coffin of photography were the ideas that:

  • Everything online should be free
  • Stealing images from websites is okay
  • Cell phones photos were “good enough” for almost any use

People no longer believe that great photographs can only be taken with professional equipment, and by photographers who spend years practicing their craft. They believe that anyone could just whip out a cell phone, and take a great shot. While I have seen some good photographs taken with a phone, most seem to be just as mediocre as those pictures taken a generation ago with a point and shoot film camera.

But before we go any further, let’s take a look at the history of photography, and the amazing advancements that have been made in less than 200 years.

1839 – Louis Daguerre created the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype. The down side of this process is that the photographic plate was partially developed using the fumes of heated mercury. The fumes, the plate and the photographer were all crammed into a tiny light-proof tent or room. Exposure to mercury causes serious health issues, including death.

1861 – Mathew Brady – The Civil War photographer who from 1861 to 1865, used collodion wet-plate glass negatives. This was a very difficult process. He had to:

  1. Go into a light-proof tent
  2. Paint light sensitive liquid onto one side of a glass plate
  3. Put the plate into a light-tight film holder
  4. Repeat, and place all of these holders into a carrying case
  5. Run out to the camera
  6. Place a holder into the camera
  7. Pull out the light-proof cover
  8. Take the photograph
  9. Replace the cover
  10. Put the holder back into the case
  11. Repeat steps 6-10 for every photograph
  12. Run back to the light-proof tent
  13. Develop the photographs.
  • If the liquid dried before the last step, it couldn’t be developed.

1888 – The first consumer camera came out, the Kodak camera. It was preloaded with enough film to take 100 photos. Once you took 100 photographs you sent the camera back to Kodak. They would develop the film, make a print from each negative, reload the camera and send it all back to you.

1905 – 35mm cameras were introduced, and threatened photographers who used 4×5 and other large size cameras.

1938 – The first camera with Automatic Exposure came out.

1948 – Polaroid released the first instant camera.

1981 – The first working digital camera was created, but it was not sold to the public.

1988 – JPEG and MPEG digital file formats were created.

1990 – The first digital camera to go on sale to the public was released. It was the Dycam Model 1.

1990 – Adobe PhotoShop 1.0 is released.

1991 – Digital backs for film cameras were released.

1992 – The National Center for Supercomputing Applications released Mosaic. It was the first web browser that allowed users to view photographs over the Internet. I actually used this browser for a while.

1994 – The Epson MJ-700V2C, the first photo quality desktop inkjet printer was released. It produced prints that were 720×720 DPI.

1995 – The Casio QV-10 camera came out. It was the first camera to have a LCD screen on the back. It cost $1,000.

1995 – The Ricoh RDC-1 was the first digital camera to shoot both still photos and movies with sound. It cost $1,500.

1996 – The Kodak DC-25 was released. It was the first camera to use a memory card. The card was called CompactFlash.

2000 – The first cell phones with cameras were released. This was a huge step in making the general public feel that photographs had no value. Since everyone had a phone with a built in camera, they took a ton of pictures, which made them feel that everyone was a great photographer.

Advances in photographic technology are occurring faster and faster each year. Amazing things will be released in the near future.

Check back for the next part of this series.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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