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Histories of Photography - Essay Example

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Photography Part 1 In the 19th and 20th Centuries, the use of photography was important and common in the field of Anthropology. Specifically, ethnographers in their ethnographic researches used photography. Ethnographic mainly involves the study of indigenous cultures…
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Histories of Photography

Download file to see previous pages... Therefore, using cameras, ethnographers during this period were able to capture all the aspects of a community’s culture, which were observable and manifest (Torresan Web). Therefore, the camera, and overall photography was considered a neutral way of the ethnographers’ collection of objective data. During most part of the 19th Century, photography was characterized by various challenges, as far as ethnography is concerned. For instance, low technological advancements in photography had rendered cameras to be heavy and expensive, and the film was considered a volatile tool. These and other factors resulted in some ethnographers arguing against use of photography in ethnography. However, in the 20th century, with increased technological advancements in photography, most of the technological problems experienced previously were resolved. This therefore, led to an increased usage level of photography in ethnography. For instance, ethnographers used photography as a tool for documentation. This would include recording videos of rituals, of which their details would be lost, if an ethnographer took notes only (Torresan Web). Through this, ethnographers are able to gain greater understanding of case studies. In the ethnographic studies in the 19th and 20th centuries, ethnographers held the ideological assumption that culture is manifested through symbols that are visible, and which are embedded in gestures, artifacts, rituals, ceremonies, and natural and constructed environments. The people in a community are considered as the actors in culture, which presents itself as a script. With this therefore, ethnographers believed that photography was an essential way of revealing the intangibles of social life, which include facial expressions, pauses in speech, body gestures, and tonal variations (Torresan Web). It was impossible to capture these using written ethnography; thus making photography to be core to ethnography. Part 2 From its time of invention, there had been a great debate on whether to or not to consider photography as an art form. Different artists had varied views and arguments on whether photography was an art form or not. One of the most important early advocates of photography as an art form include Le Gray. This was a trained artist, who was highly influential in early photography. In 1852, Le Gray wrote, “The future of photography does not lie in the cheapness but in the quality of a picture. If a photograph is beautiful, complete, and durable, it acquires an intrinsic value before which its price disappears entirely. For my part, it is my wish that photography, rather than falling into the domain of industry or of commerce, might remain in that of art. That is its only true place, and I shall always seek to make it progress in that direction” (Drogoul Web). This therefore, shows Le Gray’s justification of photography as an art form. On the other hand, Henry Peach Robinson was one of the most prominent photographers of the 19th century. Like Le Gray, Robinson felt that photography deserved to be respected as an art form. He therefore, was involved in different association of artists, which promoted photography as an art form. In addition, Robinson wrote various texts, in which he promoted photography as a form of art (Harry Ransom Center Web). Oscar Gustav Rejlander was another important artist, whom many ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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