photography


photography

Method of recording permanent images by the action of light projected by a lens in a camera onto a film or other light-sensitive material. It was developed in the 19th century through the artistic aspirations of two Frenchmen, Nicéphore Niepce and Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, whose combined discoveries led to the invention of the first commercially successful process, the daguerreotype (1837). In addition, two Englishmen, Thomas Wedgwood and William Henry Fox Talbot, patented the negative-positive calotype process (1839) that became the forerunner of modern photographic technique. Photography was initially used for portraiture and landscapes. In the 1850s and '60s, Mathew B. Brady and Roger Fenton pioneered war photography and photojournalism. From its inception, two views of photography predominated: one approach held that the camera and its resulting images truthfully document the real world, while the other considered the camera simply to be a tool, much like a paintbrush, with which to create artistic statements. The latter notion, known as Pictorialism, held sway from the late 1860s through the first decade of the 20th century, as photographers manipulated their negatives and prints to create hazy, elaborately staged images that resembled paintings. By the 1920s and '30s, a new, more realistic style of photography gained prominence, as photographers such as Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams began to pursue sharply focused, detailed images. The Great Depression and two world wars inspired many photographers, including Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, to pursue documentary, often socially conscious photography. Inspired by such work, many photojournalists, including Alfred Eisenstaedt and Margaret Bourke-White, also emerged during this period. In the second half of the 20th century, the urban social scene became a subject of much interest to photographers, as did celebrity portraiture and fashion photography. At the turn of the 21st century, photographers took advantage of digital capabilities by experimenting with enormous formats and new manipulative techniques. As technological advances improve photographic equipment, materials, and techniques, the scope of photography continues to expand enormously. See also digital camera.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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