Blog Note: Photo History
For the past several months I have been in a creative slump/ditch/dump; I only look at my cameras (clean them periodically to be ready, immediately, when the creative flash occurs,) I read photo blogs and wonder what can possibly excite me in the face of Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, and et.al’s millions and billions of images? Oh I know, I know, pick up the camera, press the shutter, change the angle, change the idea, its work not serendipity.
This morning I found a reason for optimism. I picked up Photographers On photography, 1966, edited by Nathan Lyons; and read from a piece by Alfred Stieglitz, entitled THE HAND CAMERA- ITS PRESENT IMPORTANCE from The American Annual of Photography, 1897.
“Photography as a fad is well nigh on its last legs, thanks principally to the bicycle craze. Those seriously interested in its advancement do look upon this state of affairs as a misfortune, but as a disguised blessing, inasmuch as photography had been classified as a sport by nearly all of those who deserted its ranks and fled to the present idol, the bicycle. The only people who look upon this turn of affairs as entirely unwelcome are those engaged in manufacturing and selling photographic goods. It was, undoubtedly, due to the hand camera that photography became so generally popular a few years ago. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry could, without trouble, learn how to get something or other on a sensitive plate, and this is what the public wanted – no work and lots of fun. Thanks to the efforts of these persons hand camera and bad work became synonymous. The climax was reached when an enterprising firm flooded the market with a very ingenious hand camera and the announcement, ‘You press the button, and we do the rest.’ This was the beginning of the “photographing-by-the-yard” era, and the ranks of enthusiastic Button Pressers were enlarged to enormous dimensions. The hand camera ruled supreme.”
The article goes on to extol the “champions of the tripod,” but also to conclude that the hand camera is indeed an instrument of choice for those adapting it to “serious work” with the caveat that the one quality absolutely necessary for success – patience!
So, while I’m patiently waiting, my ever-present model reclines nearby: