Photography: The Evolution Of The Profession

November 1, 2013 General 0 Comments

Evolution Of PhotographyDo you know your history?

You might not think it is important to know the history of Photography, but we disagree. At Brooks Institute, we know that Photography today is a product of the innovative minds of history. That’s why are students are required to take courses like History of Photography and Photography Foundation. We think the past can be a great source of inspiration for the future.

To help you get inspired, we’ve outlined the evolution of the profession for you. Read to discover more:

Early Photographers

Permanent photography was first popularized with the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839.

Prior to this invention, there was only one way people could keep pictures of themselves and relatives: painted portraits. The method was expensive and time consuming – meaning many people had no way of remembering deceased relatives beyond memory.

The daguerreotype allowed people to have photographs of themselves and their families. However, it was still time consuming. People had to stand still while the exposure process took place and photographers had to work quickly and efficiently – often in the dark. Daguerreotypes were very fragile and the surface chemicals could be damaged easily.

Early photographers had to be patient, detail-oriented and efficient.

As people continued to experiment with chemicals, paper negatives were developed. Photographers quickly realized that these negatives could we washed, chemically treated and used to make positive paper prints. This meant that photographers could develop multiples of the same image. The process also became dramatically quicker.

Modern Photographers

By the 19th century, the developing process had gone from wet developing to gelatin dry plate. Photographers no longer had to develop photographs on-site – they were able to work in studios without worrying about damaging the film during the transition.

The camera had also undergone changes by this time. Exposure takes less time and the shutter release is mechanical. These developments allowed photographers to capture people in movement – something which had previously been too fast for the camera to commit to film.

The technology – and the profession – continued to develop rapidly. With every move towards lighter and more efficient equipment, photographers expanded. Various genres developed quickly as photographers worked to document people and the world. It has been an important source for creating art and for documenting news. The work of some of the most famous photographers – including Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange – would not have been possible without the advances in technology and in profession.

Photography has continued to develop with the introduction of flash technology and color printing. The camera itself has continued to change and develop – both in terms of professional equipment and equipment for the everyday photographer. People are now able to take photographs without the aid of photographers on disposable cameras, home models or cell phone cameras.

Future Photographers

Digital photography has irrevocably changed photography.

According to BBC News Magazine reporter Tom de Castella, approximately 2.5 billion people around the globe have a digital camera. But even more people have phones.

Digital has made a dramatic impact on the profession of photography – not just in terms of camera technology, but in terms of how we share photographs as well.  Without digital technology in our Smartphones, we wouldn’t be able to share photographs the way we do. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest – the social networks we use every day would look much different.

Though some professionals, like Talbert McMullin, argue that this technology is infringing upon professional photographers and could lead to the disappearance of the professional altogether, we disagree. Many professional photographers have embraced sources like Instagram for sharing their day-to-day activities. They can capture their world rapidly – and without any direct expense.

The world today relies on pictures. Though the future of the profession might not be clear, we do know that there is promise – especially for those who choose to embrace the advances in technology, just as their professional predecessors did.


What do you think?