History of Photography

Topics: Photography, Photograph, American Civil War Pages: 4 (1202 words) Published: October 8, 2008
History of Photography

I have heard, more than once, that a picture is worth a thousand words. Although I can’t quote who said it, I could not agree more. A photograph is a very powerful tool, capable of telling a complete story with just one picture; let’s just hope the story is true. If taking out of context, a photograph can also be misleading. In addition with all the digital advances and different software in the market, it is relatively easy to manipulate a photography and therefore, reality. We could say that this is one of the results of the law of unintended consequences. As faithful as a photo can be to reality we still need to trust the integrity of the photographer and hope that he or she is not manipulating the picture to suit his or her needs.

One of the first social accomplishments photography made in history was during the American Civil War. Many innovations lead to new uses for photography, Matthew Brady accomplished one very important; he was able to take the camera outside the studio and photographed the civil war. Helmut Gershein mentions in his book, A Concise History of Photography: By the 1860’s and the break out of the Civil War Brady had moved out of the studio into a covered wagon where he photographed both sides of the conflict. His photographs provide valuable historic data for us today. His partner Alexander Gardner produced thousands of prints illustrating the horror of the war and the youthfulness of its victims. (164-165) For the first time and thanks to Gardner and Brady photography was changed from a portrait process to a process that was able to record history and form consciousness. Later on with pictures by W. H. Jackson photography was used to form public opinion and thanks to that US Congress establish Yellowstone Park as the first national park, “a new process called the Reportage began”.(Gershein 185)

Photography becomes a means of expression in the 1900’s as the ease of using the camera...
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