Photography Then And Now

Photographs taken by a Pinhole Camera-

Chiara Douglas, Reporter

Photography captures life’s most precious moments… from providing crucial information revolving around presidential speeches, to the emotional and physical distress endured by innocent bystanders during the Great Depression and the Vietnam War. Although there once was a world without the use of photography, the necessary elements it provides to the public stands as a new form of communication among people globally, and goes beyond language barriers. 

Many photographers throughout history, like Dorothea Lang and Lewis Hine, have left a lasting impact on the way we perceive certain events. Photographers throughout history have one goal in mind: “to make something out of nothing.” Without the presence of photographs throughout the world, we would not be able to make sense of our history. Mrs. Lepine, a photography teacher at West Springfield High School, relayed, “without pictures, we would not have known what many people looked like, how people lived, or seen major events in history, like the Civil War photos taken by Mathew Brady.” The visual appearance of these photographs allows us as individuals to create an opinion on the past, and learn from societies mistakes and successes. 

Today, photography continues to remain a crucial part of determining the severity and importance of news and other aspects of the world. The images captured by cameras can provide evidence in criminal investigations, broadcast speeches and movements throughout the country, and inform us on the new dessert at our favorite local restaurants. Mrs. Lepine continued, “When you take a moment to look around you, you see that images are everywhere.  I believe the statistic is that the average person sees 4,000-10,000 images per day.  The average American takes 20 photos per day.  We are living in an image-drenched world… Imagine a world without images…. It is hard for us to do.” She continued, “photographs are so much a part of our lives now.  Initially, at its invention, the impact was more astounding and life-changing than it is now.  Before 1826, there were only paintings and drawings, so for those people, to see an exact duplicate of themselves was really something.” The evolution of photography throughout history allows us to develop beliefs in our society, and motivates us to flourish our knowledge on certain topics captured by cameras.

In modern day society, photographers are required to walk through a series of steps to launch their careers. According to the informational site, Learn How to Become, it is recommended that you invest in a photography program, which can be found at many colleges throughout the country. Once a program is chosen, you need to find a focus. There are many focuses in photography… some being political, social, economic, and many others. As you work through your program, you should apply to internships, take tests that result in certificates, and eventually get an entry-level job and work yourself up the food chain. Although this is a common approach to building a successful career in this major today, the world of photography constantly changes at a rapid rate. 

Dating back to the 1500s, the Pinhole Camera, created by Mozi, a chinese philosopher, created the backbone for future cameras. This instrument looked like a cardboard box wrapped with tape, but it showcased the translation of light and continued to inspire the minds of future creators. As the development of cameras progresses throughout history, Mrs. Lepines classroom transforms alongside its success. She revealed, “My experience has changed dramatically in the 20 years I have been teaching at West Side!  In the old building, we had a full darkroom with seven enlargers, and only a few computers.  We used film cameras, developed our own film, and made our own prints.  In our current state-of-the-art building, my classroom has 20 iMacs with Adobe software and we use digital cameras.  The newer technology allows us to do so much more since the process is significantly faster.” Throughout the advancement of technology, the newest camera, the Canon EOS 1D-C, includes many developments, and alongside the first camera known to man, grows the hopes for innovation globally. 

Photography will only continue to advance in the future. Although there is no guarantee for what will change specifically, it is known that new cameras will emerge, specifically from Canon. In addition, changes in career paths and opportunities to earn more money in photography have also been talked about. Mrs. Lepine concluded, “I want my students to leave with an understanding of the history of photography, knowledge of compositional skills, and knowledge of how and when to take a really interesting photograph.  I also want them to be able to explain their work and be able to use the vocabulary necessary to talk about art.  I want them to know that photography is a viable career option, but just like any other career, you need to work hard to be successful.”