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The Camera Essay

It was a hot summer July afternoon in Key West, Florida with my family. We were on our first family vacation in a long while. All of us were standing in the ocean water watching the trainer directing the dolphin to do tricks. She each let us interact individually with the dolphin. It was one of the best feelings ever to just be so close to this gentle creature. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life that I never want to forget. How would I remember this exact moment in time? Photography is simply the answer. Photographs were taken during the whole time of this event.

I can always look back at these photos and not forget one detail. In the words of Jim Jonnard, who is the founder of the Red digital camera system, “The camera is arguably one of the most important of all inventions…it is he single tool that has the ability to stop time, record history, generate art, tell stories, and communicate messages that transcend language like nothing else ever conceived. ” (Red Camera) I agree with this statement and the depth within it. The way it changed art is still unexplainable with its eternal lasting impact.

The invention of the camera was completely necessary in order for original art to grow and change its direction throughout history and present time. (Berger 16-20) When the camera was first invented it immediately changed how people saw. This was first depicted in paintings. It had taken away the uniqueness of paintings by conveying a different message. When looking at a painting on a screen its surroundings include but are not limited to furniture and the appearance of the walls in the background. This interferes with the true meaning of the image because its environment is causing a distraction to its viewers.

Instead of the viewer finding its way to the painting, the painting makes its way to the viewer. The whole meaning changes in its path. This is when the power of the camera took over and became a whole new way of art. (Berger 16-20) Not much concern was put towards how the camera would affect artists and their work. At first they panicked. Adapting to this constant changing world with an art career wasn’t a quick adjustment for them. During the time of the 1830’s which was when the camera was invented was also the era where portraits were a huge deal. Artists felt this pressure through their commissioned portraits.

This was the main job of most artists. Many of them didn’t view the camera as a positive attribute to their work. When the camera was introduced to society, people soon realized that it’d be a lot less money and more time efficient to just get photographs taken of them instead. The emergence of “starving artists” became quite popular. Artists started losing hope with their way of thinking that art had died. (Mcrae) However this art depression didn’t last too long. They were able to shift this downfall into something completely unique and out of the ordinary.

Instead of just focusing on portraits that had to be “true to life,” they looked to paint new subjects, experimenting what could work. They started painting the everyday, working class people exposing the secrets of society. This lead to the development of Cubism, Impressionism, modern art, and even abstract art. To make their pieces unique they added elements that the camera could not obtain. They wanted spectators to know the original. Little did the artists know that photography became a whole new art in itself, opening a door of fresh inspiration.

It all began with the camera teaching them realism which allowed artists to see the juxtaposition of things that are real and not. A new perspective was quickly attained and applied. At first painters had to create this concept of realism. Now they just had to arrange and capture. (Lane) Also, artists now didn’t have to sketch the image being created in front of their subject. They could just use a snapshot as a reference instead of having added pressure from the subjects they were surrounded by. This allowed for more detailed and intricate pieces to be created.

Now artists had the opportunity to express themselves. Becoming interested in how the camera worked light became the main focus. Light was meant almost everything in art. it was used to depict the mood, theme and even taught the viewer how to feel after looking at a painting. Lighting had such a strong power and artists didn’t even realize this until the invention of the camera. Once again, the realism that photographs portrayed taught the artists how to do their work in a whole new way. Light reflected off of objects passes through the lens of the device, burning an image onto film.

Artists made that same connection with humans. Through the human eye, light reflects off of objects and passes through the eye burning an image onto the retina. This concept really intrigued artists, applying the properties of light to their own paintings. (Kenny) I think this was an overwhelming time for artists. They were used to art as being a depiction of one of their creative envisions. Now there was this device that stopped moments in time which caused them to focus on reality. They had to adapt to producing pieces that were exactly as seen.

I agree that this can be a difficult concept to grasp especially when taught something a specific way. (Berger 16-20) Now that it is clear that the invention of the camera first influenced art such as in paintings, it also created a whole new classification of art through the video camera. Why just take a snapshot in time when you can record what is actually occurring right in front of you? The art of cinema and theatre were born, showing a side of art that no one had ever seen before. Photographing motion picture just seemed unrealistic and nearly impossible to society at the time, but they were so wrong.

It was the gateway to visual media. Changes and developments in the art world highly influenced visual artists, photographers, and film makers. Willie Varela, in The Journal of Film and Video quotes that, “filmmakers who started working after World War II constituted a movement as powerful and significant as the abstract expressionists in paintings. ” These two types of arts worked hand in hand with each other. The ideas that these expressionist painters were able to gain from photography contributed to the growth and success of film making.

Through this they were both able to have an extreme impact on each other, leading to the growth of the relationship between art and audience. (Tenney) Film was another way of communicating to society just as photographs and paintings did. This all goes back to the creation of the camera which just proves the point that it was completely necessary in order for art to prosper. It first influenced paintings and then progressed to even more especially motion picture. Videoing moments in time are such a crucial part of today’s society. I don’t think most people realize how much it’s used in their everyday lives.

It is used for so many things such as television and movies but most importantly for communication. (Tenney) I feel that both photography and film are so important. It’s what helped to advance society in its major aspects. To me art was the first one, but through the camera a door opened revealing a whole new level of creativity. Society would not nearly be as advanced as it is today without this invention. A life without the camera seems impossible. It gave way to an innovative way of art that was created that ended up changing how people saw for a lifetime. A picture is worth more than just a thousand words.


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