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Photographic Futures Historical Development

Photographic Futures Historical Development

Photography technology has evolved from the bulky Camera Obscura to the digital cameras of the modern world; from the roll film to the memory chip; from a technology owned by a few to one in nearly every household. In the future, photography technology might test new frontiers, but the biggest change will be in relation to its anthropological role, particularly for the wider society not just for professional photographers who become the most prominent recorders of their own lives.blankAmong the first significant landmarks in photography was “the advent of lightweight, portable 16mm film equipment and new low-light film stocks in the 1960s” (Dutta 3). According to Dutta, this heralded visual anthropology together with the camera is increasingly being used in private spaces to record events and activities. The digital era has had a further impact on photography, for example, the dawn of the Photoshop which is a result of manipulated photography. The new technology has also made it possible to practice abstract photography (Song 1340). As a result, photography has explored and revealed the human psyche like fears, desires, and fantasies in ways never before imagined it would be possible.
Photoshop has enabled the visualization of the abstract such as human emotions. However, abstract photography is not innovative as one may believe: it is merely advancing of an old goal of photographers’ goal to ‘see’ the abstract in new ways. In the future, therefore, technology is likely to evolve only further through the development of new software to enable photographic modifications, and it will still be historical recurrence rather than new vanguard. Abstract photography depicts a lack of creativity. Photography is in itself art, and therefore, manipulating images to create abstract do not portray the aspect of the innovation.blankPerhaps the most remarkable evolution in the field of photography in the digital era is the arrival of the phone camera. The smartphone era has broadened the scope of photography’s role in anthropological documentation of “happenings in and around society” (Dutta 1). Dutta refers to the above as ‘visual anthropology’ (3). Whereas initially, cameras were only in the hands of the rich of trained photographers, it is now in the hands of everyone. According to a BBC report in 2011 as presented by Dutta, approximately 2.5 billion people in the world owned digital cameras.
Traditional photography creates abstract images by focusing on the qualities of natural light and shadow (Kennedy 1). Trent Parke, a street photographer, for instance, is famous for his ability to catch moments of great relations between light and shadow to create surreal worlds. According to Eric Kim, in his review of Trent Parke’s works, Parke’s skills at using the light and shadows create a ‘strong emotional and personal connection” between Parke and his photograph. Indeed, such a connection is invisible, something that can only be felt. Matt Stuart is another popular street photographer whose color works are said to go beyond the image in the frame. Strecker describes his photographs as imbued with “touches of humor, irony and dry” (1).
The visual anthropologists among the most popular ones being the renowned photographer, Steve McCurry, present their own creations as subjects: creating and recording their own lives. Icons like Steve McCurry remain important in the photographic society where nearly everyone has a camera: being a professional who can show the subject as he intends. However, this photographic style raises the question of bias. Mainly, photographers develop their work with an ‘image’ of their theme in mind-whether consciously or subconsciously. The style may lead to ‘unintended professional biases.’ The camera is getting into the hands of more people, in private lives and homes, and this has significant implications on the amount of anthropological content people can access. The accessibility of photographic tools will affect the power of professional visual anthropologists in the future.blank
No technology is static, and this is true in the field of photography as well. The digital world does not seem to have changed much by way of innovation; it has improved on old novels, like the use of photography to explore the abstract. Photography is expected to continue evolving in the future, but it is hard to see what new things it will bring. The most significant value of the digital era and where bigger changes are to happen is with the anthropological role of photography. With many people increasingly owning digital cameras, including phone cameras there are more sources of anthropological content, possibly reducing the power of visual anthropologists like Steve McCurry, Matt Stuart, Sohrab Hura, and Trent Parke and others.

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