Photography as an Art Form and as a Technology
In his book A Concise History of Photography, Helmut Gernsheim takes the reader onto a time travel, explaining the origins of photography and telling about the opportunities that photography offers. It is rather unusual that, together with the history of photography, Gernsheim also considered the way the given art form has been treated since the day when people learned about it. According to the author, photography can be interpreted in two basic ways, namely, as an art form and as a technology.
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It must be admitted that Gernsheim’s work offers a very clear and rather detailed explanation of the origins of photography. The author mentions the creator of photography, the prototypes of the modern cameras, starting from daguerreotypes, and mentions the people who contributed to the development of photography. Although Gernsheim handles the subject brilliantly and offers the readers an enticing journey into the history of photography, a couple of issues still must be mentioned.
Even though the author claims that he offers a concise history of photography, the book deals rather with the way people interpret the given phenomenon, calling it either art or technology. However, the given issue does not diminish the merits of the book in the slightest.
Impressions and Ideas: The Book as an Inspiration
Gernsheim’s work offers a lot of food for thoughts. The author makes the readers see photography as a two-sided sword, i.e. both as an art form and as a technology. Moreover, Gernsheim challenges the readers to consider the art of photography through the lens of the modern ideas and figure out if with the availability of the necessary equipment photography has ceased to be art.
What is especially fascinating about Gernsheim’s work is that it describes in details every single stage of photography evolution, including the photography on glass, metal and paper. Gernsheim picks the most interesting facts about photography, making even the description of photography development process exciting.
Even though in the modern world, the art of photography has changed tremendously, and there are very few people who prefer dealing with positives and negatives instead of customizing the digital camera, the legacy of photography lives on. It must be admitted that in the course of photography development, people have changed their attitude towards the latter many times.
Giving a new kind of art rather cold shoulder at the very beginning of photography evolution, people treated it as a technology first, switching later on to the idea that photography is a kind of art.
Gernsheim, Helmut. A Concise History of Photography. Mineola, NY: Courier Dover Publications, 1986. Print.