Photography: why bother?

Why do we even bother to take photographs?

Some people don't. Some do.

For those who do there may be differing reasons.

An obvious one is the pleasure of being able to look back on something we were involved in a while ago.


In a sense a photograph is a time travel device.

It lets us see people, places and things from the past.

It will let people in the future see people, places and things from now.

The ability to record an image photographically started in 1826 with Joseph Nicephore Niepce and the view from his window in Bourgogne.

It was an eight hour exposure onto bitumen and we've probably all made one that looks like it in our photographic efforts.


First photograph, Joseph Nicephore Niepce, Bourgogne, 1826


By just 12 years later in 1838 the quality had advanced dramatically and Louis Daguerre took this from his window in Paris.

The forever unknown monsieur having his shoes shined at the bottom left is the first ever photograph of a person.


First photograph of a person, Louis Daguerre, Paris, 1838

A century ago most people would only have been in a very few photographs in their entire life.

It is only really in the last seventy years or so that photography became mass market.

Now it is so common that we take it for granted. Most of us will be in thousands of photographs.

Yet even so a certain photo can grab our attention for a moment if it has a certain something about it.


There are many rules about light, composition, colour and so on that photographers can follow.

I will go through all these in later blogs.

Certainly being unaware of or breaking the rules will generally result in a less than perfect photograph.

Unfortunately following all the rules does not guarantee a great picture either.

In the last twenty years of so we have had tools like Photoshop to fix problems in pictures but they can only do so much.

The best pictures we see were usually pretty good to start with and then had a few tweaks from these editing programs.

Auto mode on your camera often does a pretty good job.

As Artificial Intelligence creeps in this will get better.

Perhaps the day will come when you can just point your camera or phone and it will work out what the main subject is and set all the variables in 1/10,000 of a second to take a perfect picture every time.

Until then some of us will bother about photography.

You can follow my blog at PLphoto.com.au

©2020 by Peter Lavelle.

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