Is the History of Photography important to armature and professional photographers? How about those that only shoot sports or weddings? I would say that unequivocally Yes the history of photography is very important to any photographer. From understanding the laws and freedoms that govern its practice to the knowledge of photography’s place in the world of art or communication. Even the creation of images and the current status of equipment manufactures, it can be argued, has been impacted by the way social and technologically photography has evolved.
I read a lot about art, and while a little dated but correct I think for the time frame in which it was written, Arron Scharf’s Art and Photography is a good pedagogical foundation for discussing this issue. I recommend it to any one interested in photography as an art. One of the most striking parallels is that the conflict of miniature portrait artists and engravers and the first photographers and that of the current conflict of flim based photographers and digital photographers.
Photographer has always been an provocateur among the arts. The tools are very much technologically driven, and can used in professional endeavors other than art. It is the ability of photography to do so many types of images well that has frustrated the traditional arts.
Before photography was accepted as an art, it is interesting to note that several of the worlds greatest painters used early precursors to the camera (Jan Van Meer and the camera lucida) for the proper perspective.
Perhaps most interesting is the vitriol used by the early critics as well as some of film based imagers that have been used against photography and digital photography in specific. But before I digress into that 7th level of hell, I would like to explore some of the history of photography as it relates to becoming an art in coming posts.