1. Photography is the act of capturing a moment on film by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation electrically or chemically. A photograph is the result of photography. It is usually taken and kept as a momentum of certain moments in time. It gives you a chance to return to the past to the time the photo was taken, which induces a kind of nostalgia that makes photographs personal and precious to its owner. Photos have an ability to retain memories that is what we value most about photos. Back in the earlier times of photography, an argument of what is truthful photography took place. Many believe that photography can never be the honest truth because the photos are always taken a certain way to simulate a type of feeling and send a particular message to the viewers. These photos can later be edited and manipulated for commercial use, which again goes in favor of photography not being a truthful medium.
The earliest type of photography known as daguerreotypes was known to be honest representations of people and landscapes. Daguerreotypes were first brought up upon on January 7th 1839 by a French painter & printmaker named Jaques-Mande Daguerre who was inspired by the Camera Obscura. Even though daguerreotypes are the most accurate type of photography, some argue that it is actually dishonest in its own way as well. For example, daguerreotypes were often “organized” to look a certain way. Meaning a child’s head would be forced into position by their parent’s hands to prevent wandering and burliness. So if there is organization and force involved, is the truth of the photo questionable? In my opinion, an example of honest photography would be photography by Lewis Hine. Hine’s drive for photography came from the endless amount of “human junk” found in our society. He found a reason, and used his photography to show the brutal truth of children forced to leave their homes and work in labor for countless hours. The photos revealed the essences of the children’s beings, revealing the demeaning labor and destroyed beings they have become. Now that is nothing but the truth, zero manipulation and full devotion to ending child labor. When we speak about honest photography, there are many boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed and the intention for taking those photos must be of a good deed and nothing else.
Another example of honest photography is documentary photographs. Photographer Dorthea Lange was able to capture a very special and memorable moment when she decided to turn back to Pea-Pickers Camp when she spotted it at the corner of her eye. With taking these photos, there is immediately a moral responsibility attached to them. Lange was only able to achieve what she had because her intentions for being there were true and not clouded with an utter motive to raise her fame or recognition. If done properly with the right mindset, the fame will gradually follow on its own. Fame is of least importance when you are dealing with such value in what you do.
2. The Harvest of Death by Timothy O’ Sullivan and the Valley of the Shadow of Death, a reproduction of Roger Fenton’s 1855 Crimean War are both questionable in the truth of these photos. In these photographs. The angle and position of bodies in these photos were carefully placed in view to make for a more dramatic setting and photograph. The audience sees the pictures as a record of the war with no re-edits or extra lighting due to the idea of war images being a documentary type of photograph. Photographs however always try to tweak the angle to make the picture visually look more appealing even if it is not retouched; it is not the entire truth in my opinion. Even though this is not a realistic depiction of the war, it does its job in showing us the horrific outcome of the war and the struggle of the soldiers.
The first image, Valley of the Shadow of Death, depicts a scene of empty land with no bodies, just dirt road. This image speaks more of the truth but in a sense is still taken for propaganda. It is possible that to the left or right of the photographer, a body could have been lying down right there, but the photographer chose to capture the image in a land of abyss. For what reason? Of course it is to satisfy the true intentions of the photo. In this way, image one and two share a common ground; they are both images taken and used to showcase the war in a different setting and way. Each photograph is taken at the same location of the war but it is not how it was left. This again raises the question of whether photographs are objective or truthful.
As the years progressed, photography continued to develop and soon the invention of the Lecia camera was born. This camera allowed for photographers to take a larger amount of frames with a shorter amount of time between each frame. The camera was portable in size and fast in action, which allowed for motion shots to be shot of war coverage. Robert Capa was able to capture his famous photo in 1936 of Death of a Loyalist Militiaman, which depicts the very moment before the militiaman falls on his back after being shot.
3. Landscapes photography includes visual features of a section of land such as mountains, rivers, hills, and many more. Sometimes landscape photo include buildings, structures, and transitory elements such as lighting and weather.
There are many cultural meanings of landscape, one way was for pure aesthetic reasons and another was to show how the land can be inhabitable and how beautiful the landscape is as a whole. Carl Watkins’ was a American photographer of the 19th century. He was born in New York and quickly decided he needed to explore a new place in California where he found his passion for photography. His photos are focused mainly on landscapes and one of his favorite places to photograph was Yosemite, hence the photograph above. Watkins’ photographs of Yosemite were more than just an image capture in a national park; he created an icon for people to be intrigued by. An example would be his photograph of the Half Dome, an existing scene but when viewers saw his photograph, they immediately saw the beauty of the landscape and wanted and had to see it for themselves. Watkins’ has a skill of showcasing the best part of a place and allowing the viewers to really get a good idea of the space shown in the landscape. Landscape photography can be a little tricky considering your subject is a section of land. The focus and angle of the photograph, along with the lighting (time of day), is essential to making the beauty of the landscape really stand out. Landscape photos have a very natural feel to it and I think that is what people appreciate most about it. It’s difficult for photographers to take pictures of the same place and still be able to capture a different aspect or quality of the land. Landscape photographs help open people’s eyes to new places and nowadays with technology constantly growing, photographers are able to depict landscapes in different ways, such as on postcards or on cards. This allows for a worldwide audience and for foreigners to get a feel and visual of what a specific place would look like.
4. In the 1850’s a new form of photography more towards art started to emerge. Art photography was a start to a new way of viewing and creating art. There are many things that are essential to art photography, of all, framing was the most important. Framing the image allowed the viewer to focus on a very specific area of the photograph and allow the rest to support the main focus. Usually the focal point of the image would be the clearest resolution while the rest of the photo is of less resolution or blurred out. This way the viewer wouldn’t get confused about what is the main focus of the photo when they are viewing it.
During this time, a new type of printing known as combination printing came about. It is a photography technique that uses two negatives or more to create one image. This process of creating a combination print is difficult. It requires careful plan out of where everything in the frame will be and the final outcome of the image. You have to almost backtrack, go from the end to the beginning. It is important to understand the different lightings to ensure a seamless photograph at the end. Photographer Oscar Rejlander was known for using combination printing. The image above, Two Ways of Life, 1857 was actually a result of 30 negatives. The beauty of combination printing is the limitless quality to it. If controlled properly and handled with care, any image can be made with tie and patience. Even photos that are unrealistic or a combination of the two, this technique makes for a very interesting and one of a kind photograph. Artists were able to be free with their ideas and imagination of how they viewed the world. This allowed for people to explore more and really experiment with what they can do with this technique; whether it was to create realistic images or fictional. As time progressed, photography continued to advance and as artists developed more skills, new techniques arise and then there was suddenly multiple ways to do one thing. Photography has truly grown from its early days of accurate daguerreotypes, landscapes, and other types of prints/photography.
5. Modernist photography in terms of avant-garde consists of movements of the Dadaists, Constructivists, Surrealists, Bauhaus artists, and Futurists. These artists are not your ordinary, traditional kind of artists. These artists are known for challenging what we see as normal or recognize as everyday life. Avant-Garde artists looked to photography to achieve what they wanted. Example of these artists/photographers would be Alfred Steiglitz and Paul Strand, who “used the realism of the medium to create beauty from everyday life and to make statements about the nature of photography, rather than about the world”. Their kind of art is best described as abstracted reality without the social and spatial context. To achieve this, they use viewpoints which flatten pictorial space and then going back to emphasize the shape and tonal rendition (highlights/shadows) as needed. Photography because a work of art by bearing function through the subjectivity that photographers put within the pictures.
In Europe modern artists, particularly the Surrealists, Constructivists, and Bauhaus artists worked towards breaking the traditional of art (design/definition) and aimed for a utopian aspect in mind combined with everyday life. They found technology to be extremely helpful and useful. The European avant-garde used technology to create mixed medias that often clashed with social and political matters.
The New Vision was the result of the avant-garde artists. It was based on the opposite of the rules and aesthetics to art that we normally understand. Photographs were meant to go against the rules of art and pictorials. As mentioned above, the avant-garde artists found a fondness to technology and used everything they could to get close-up shots, double exposures, and photos in the most unnatural and abnormal angles.
6. As we have read from previous articles, there are many ways of selling fashion through photography and film. One example would be a commercial video/film, similar to the one that we watched called Blue Shanghai Lady featuring the blue Dior bag. Short moving fashion images can also be an effective way of selling fashion through photography. The close up shots really shows the details and the drapes of the piece on the human body. Fashion is meant to be always moving rather than sitting still on a mannequin. A still image is able to capture a moment in time and can still be used as a method to selling fashion, however it is not as effective as a moving image because the motion is lost, thus the dynamic aspect of the clothing is gone. In still photography it is hard to convey everything you want to in one image because it is one standard image verses a moving image where it is a compliment of images to create a true master piece that really shows the beauty of the clothing. A moving image/ film will always give you a better overall feel. Fashion needs to be in a suitable environment, with music, and close-up of the movement of the special aspects of the clothing. Showcasing that is what will intrigue people to continue to be inetrested in what you are designing and create. Do not give too much away at once but a little at a time. That is why a short film is so effective. The mysterious element to the video helps keep the audience on their toes and keeps their eyes from leaving the screen. This is very similar to what was happening in the Dior bag video (blue shanghai lady). Throughout the entire video I was waiting anxiously to see what would happen at the end. Even though I was still confused, I was able to follow through to the end. That is key to making a successful fashion video to see your fashion using photography.