In this age of smartphones and point-and-shoots, photography has lost the painstaking artistry that it once possessed. Anyone with a cell phone and an Instagram filter can call themselves a photographer. While this age of technology is good for the spread of information and the preservation of our history, I don’t think future textbook publishers will be contacting our generation for snapshots of our coffee and biscotti.
While I know that we can’t all be Ansel Adams or Steve McCurry, the true art and beauty of photography is something that needs to be remembered and preserved. You see, photography is more than just a tool used to get “likes” and “shares,” it is an instrument of historical preservation and a way of capturing the beauty of God’s creation.
According to Britannica, the innovations that laid the groundwork for modern day photography are found as far back as the "16th century with the camera obscura and the Italian scientist and writer Giambattista della Porta. The principle behind this technology can even be traced back 2,000 years ago to the time of Aristotle...It was not until the early 19th century, however, that photography actually came into being.”
As photography became more widely used, photographers were able to capture portraits, nature and historical events in a more accurate medium than was previously available. With this insurgence of reliable image recording, the preservation of history reached a whole new level. “An effective photograph can disseminate information about humanity and nature, record the visible world, and extend human knowledge and understanding” (Britannica). Photography held the power to connect the world through imagery.
Photographs have the power to tell a story more profoundly than words. It is through the photographs of wounded soldiers and the tear stained face of a refugee child that we feel the most poignant emotional reaction to historical events; not the account from the detached historian.
The history of photography is one of great innovation and success. It marries the beauty of science and the arts in the shared pursuit of instantaneous image recording. Photography has assisted scientists, artists, historians, and journalists in documenting life and discoveries for over a century.
Isn’t Instagram Enough?
No, it is not. You see, photography is a means to capture memories and preserve the fleeting beauty of a moment. In 50 years when your grandchildren are looking at your photo albums, it is the history of their family that they will want to see. You will not be showing them the Starbucks you had on some random Monday, you will be showing them the photos from the day grandma and grandpa said “I do” or when you walked across the stage as the first person in your family to receive a college diploma. That is the reason why Instagram is not enough.
To me, photography is more than just my job or a hobby. Photography is a lifestyle. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not at least think about photography. Yes, I’ll admit that I too enjoy Instagram and filtered pictures of my beverage, but to me, the art of photography is so much more.
To put this somewhat into perspective, I recently ran across a definition of photography that was so simple and beautiful that it took my breath away.
As defined by Ritz Camera, photography is simply “writing with light.”
As both a writer and photographer this speaks to my heart. I may never capture the photograph that makes the history books or wins the Pulitzer Prize, but simply enjoying and capturing life tells a story for years to come.
In conclusion, the art of photography is so much more than snapping a picture with a smartphone to get a few likes. Photography is capturing life as it is lived and enjoyed with the ones you love. So, get out there with your camera and live. Tell the story that only you can tell through your lens because where words falter images are there to finish the story.