While photography was once the art and science of capturing light as pictures or film, it is now the thing people do to appear deep and pad their Facebook stats.

This doesn't mean anything.

Featuring a blazing fast shutter speed of only 12 minutes!

Just The Facts

  1. Photography is the art of capturing real life images most people don't care about
  2. While more difficult than pretending to play an instrument, it is easier to fake when trying to look "artsy"
  3. Digital cameras and photoshop have reduced a once proud form of expression into a joke
  4. Nobody is fooled by MySpace angles anymore, they just assume you're fat

The Invention

The photograph was invented in the early 1800's, thanks to the work of numerous men who are probably still getting heckled in the afterlife for "not being more of a Tesla or Edison". This started with Nicephore Niepce in 1822, who built on discoveries of various chemicals to invent "photoetching", a process that produced pictures that "sucked". Several years later, he developed a camera that could make a picture in only eight hours. By 1837, the world had cameras that captured shoddy, blurry images in only ten minutes.

By the 1850's, Frederick Scott Archer had streamlined the development further, using believe-it-or-not-more-wieldy photographic plates made of glass. By the 1880's, plates not full of liquid chemicals were invented. Later still, film was developed from the work of George Eastman. Photography was on its way.

Finding a Niche

Photography had a long journey from fragile etching to bane of illustrators. By the 1850's, its use had spread through Europe and America. The number of photographers grew and the technology with it. Prices dropped, and people started getting photos taken on paper instead of glass and tin and shit like that. While photos did become widespread and more affordable, they were not "take 200 pictures of your night at Senor Frogs" widespread/affordable. Most people would have maybe one or two photos taken of them in their lifetime-ish.

People hundreds of times more important than any of you would have killed for this opportunity.

We say "ish" because the 19th century was kind of like Canada: at a crossroads between the past and the future, unsure what to do with the technology it now possessed. Clinging to some leftover 15th century values and customs, postmortem photography became the thing to do for anyone with the money and a corpse. Do you have a parlor in your house? That's where you would have gone to get your last portrait done. Try eating Cheerios on the couch now.

Turns out the movie Uncle Buck was based on true events.

By the early 1900's, black and white film was higher quality, cameras were getting reasonably sized and portable, and people were dicking around with color and getting pretty awesome results. People started actually being able to buy cameras for themselves too. While both the film and technology was expensive, it expanded the medium into more artistic avenues. People even figured out how to string pictures together to make film.

Hitting the Mainstream

Things continued in this fashion. By the 30's, commercial color film had been developed by Kodak as well as Technicolor for movies. George Eastman, the guy we mentioned earlier as the inventor of film, penned a simple note: "My work is done. Why wait?" and shoots himself in the head after pushing aside his huge balls.

Things continued to generally get better. Polaroid self developing film came along in the sixties. Color film eventually became as cheap as black and white (and later, cheaper thanks to economics). Lens became better, zoomier, fisheye-ier. Every family had a camera and endless interchangeable pictures of their Grand Canyon trip to prove it. Photography became the norm. Rather than hide at the back of the group, fat teens began to take the pictures themselves. Still, a decent camera was a significant investment and film, between the cost to buy and the cost to develop, was not cheap either.

Going Digital

By the late 1980's, digital photographs has progressed from something the CIA invented so they wouldn't have to catch negatives from spy planes (seriously) to a semi-legit medium. Image manipulation software like Adobe Photoshop sprang up. By the 90's, digital cameras had good enough quality and were cheap enough for consumers. Things went digital in a hurry. As more business and design got done on computers and consumers overwhelmingly showed their willingness to sacrifice quality for convenience, things shifted.

By the new millennium, true digital cameras began to appear and Japanese people started cramming them in their phones somehow. A year later Polaroid was bankrupt. A few years more and Kodak, probably the biggest name in film, stops making film cameras. Just last week, we totally saw a guy with a 9.0 megapixel camera in his phone. Nobody is quite sure what a megapixel is, but it sounds important. Film was all but dead.


While digital photography dominates most of consumer market simply because it's easier to use, faster... cheaper... well the point is, film continues to have its place. And knowing what the hell that is is the main thing that separates the professional from the amateur. No longer having to deal with film has led to a degradation of the profession as people begin to look at amateur work as "good enough". Things like framing, lens and lighting apparently don't matter if you can just pick your favorite picture from the several thousand that fit on the groom's cousin's camera phone.

Whether this is truly a bad thing is hard to say, and these angry professionals may or may not have a legitimate point to make. The important thing is that somebody is pointing out that people who take digital black and white or selective color pictures of their shadows are just douchebags, not artists.

Yeah, just because they did it in Shindler's List doesn't make this deep.