The art of photography is so common place in the modern world that it is hard to think of a time when it did not exist. Photography is the process of recording pictures by capturing light on either a film or an electronic sensor. Photography has undergone many changes through the years and has now reached a point in its evolution where it is affordable and available absolutely everywhere.
The traditional method of film photography was the only one available up until 1990; this is when the first digital camera was born and unveiled commercially to the public. Now digital cameras are definitely the standard and the process they use of recording light on to an electronic image sensor is how the vast majority of photographs are made. Film photography is still widely used however, and is the preferred method with many professional and artistic photographers.
The word ‘photography’ originates from a French word that is in turn based on the Greek words for ‘light’ and ’stylus’. This gives us a deeper meaning of photography as a combination of two factors, the input or light from the world and the medium or stylus of technology that captures it. Light patterns that are reflected or emitted from objects in the world are streamed through a photographic lens during a timed period of exposure. Exposure is the total amount of light allowed on to the recording medium and is measured in lux seconds.
Photography has had many specific uses throughout its history. While it has been used in the past to study movement and act as a means of surveillance, it is now most often a means of entertainment and a tool of socialisation. Especially since the advent of digital cameras and their relative affordability, photography has now become an integrated part of many peoples lives. Digital camera technology has combined with mobile phone technology to provide consumers with a highly intergrated and accessible device.
While digital is the most prevalent, there are still many other types of photography in use as well. Black and white photographs were the original kind and even dominated long after colour film was available. Today, black and white or monochrome photography is still widely used for artistic and commercial reasons. Colour photography began in the mid 1800’s, and while it had troublesome beginnings, it did become the most used photographic type for the next century. A few other types of photography exist such as ultraviolet and infrared; these types capture a broader spectrum of waves and are predominantly used for technical and scientific purposes.
Photography has become a huge industry in the 20th and 21st centuries, it is used for everything from advertising to documenting wildlife and fashion shows. Photography as an art form has also taken off in recent decades and is now a regular at art shows and galleries around the world. When these two styles of commercial and artistic are joined with modern trends of photography for entertainment and social archiving, it is easy to understand why photography has become such an important tool in the modern world.