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A Timeless Fascination

  • Photography and Fine Art (by )
  • An Adventure in Photography (by )
  • The NEL type III deep-sea camera (by )
  • Photographic cameras and accessories : c... (by )
  • Premo Cameras, 1914 (by )
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From the creation and popularization of the daguerreotype to the newest smartphone technology, cameras have documented virtually every type of relationship in the civilized and natural world. Cameras work as time machines, capturing and preserving the memories we create for ourselves. Whether it is through vernacular photography, which typically involves unknown photographers seeking beauty in the ordinary, domestic lives of folks, or fashion photography, which is purposefully and dutifully stylized to suit the latest cultural trends, cameras are powerful tools that have become permanent fixtures in our efforts to track the progression of people, places, and ideas across the world. 

Louis Daguerre introduced his daguerreotype invention to the public in 1839, and for 20 years it was unparalleled in capturing images. Daguerreotypes improved upon painted portraits, being less expensive and yielding greater efficiency capturing the image of the intended subject. 

Experiments in color photography began around the time of Daguerre's daguerreotype announcement, but practical use remained elusive until the early 1860's. James Clerk Maxwell published the 3-color separation principle. He proposed that three separate black and white photographs be run through green, blue, and red filters, which would provide the photographer three basic channels necessary to create a color image. While some continued to enjoy the classic look of black and white photos, millions more appreciated the true-to-life portrayals of themselves and their families.  
In the following decades, improvements to both color and black and white photography made the process increasingly affordable and accessible. Cameras evolved into a far more recreational instrument. In 1888, Kodak's box camera afforded people the ability to capture their own memories simply and effectively. These cameras were loaded with film upon purchase, and customers returned their cameras for the processing of their photos and a new roll of film. 

With an increased fascination of photography, and an growing market, development in camera technology boomed. The Leica II (1932), the Contax S  (1949), and the Polaroid Colorpack 80 Instant camera (1975) all granted greater access to the capture of memories. 

The fascination of photography prevails, and most photographs are now taken digitally, usually with smartphones. Henry Turner Bailey's Photography in Fine Art  implores readers to look around themselves more deliberately. Octave Thanet's An Adventure in Photography chronicles how we see ourselves in the spaces we occupy. 

As technology develops further and cultures provide more to capture, cameras will continue to relay our images, ideas, and practices to any who wish to see.

By Logan Williams

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