Alive in death
Well, the point is, that even though analog photography was invented in the mid 19th century, it had to go a long way before it became the “modern medium” we usually mean when talking about photography these days.
The reason for this is not so much technology, but man’s awareness. People couldn’t relate to this medium for long time. It opened up an unprecedented world. It was magic, it was a shocking reality sometimes and it showed corners of the world, previously unseen by most of the people alive at the time.
It wasn’t only the piece of paper, the print itself, that they had to comprehend, but a whole new changing world.
Film-based photography has produced some amazing work and photographers during its lifetime, but in a way it was short lived since by the beginning of the 21st century it was also more and less declared dead.
Of course photography as a medium lived on in the digital age too, but there was something really different about it. Somehow the magic was swapped for nostalgia.
Analog photography has grown to occupy a very important place in our culture and in our hearts, regardless whether it did or did not tell the truth. It established modern visual communication and has aided fine art to break free. It gave us the image that after centuries descended to the people. It meant the emergence of the millions of grainy family photos and the birth of the myth of the Photojournalists, as Capa and Bresson. It has created the cult and glamour of fashion photography with names as Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon. These less than hundred years gave myths, glamour, adventure, and emotions to us, which have become in a way more important than the truth. It was something far away, out of reach, yet really close. These sentiments of the analog era are beautiful, but only one side of the medium however, because the very same photography was also the stimulating force for the advertising industry in the 20th century which moved our society towards the unreal Barbie world of Holland’s Next Top Model in the 21st century.
It is nearly impossible to imagine from our point of view in the present, what the world would have turned out to be without photography. Within less than a hundred year this medium, which still struggled to be accepted at the beginning of the 20th century, had in a way more impact on shaping our culture than the past centuries of art and this is especially true when we look at the first decade of the 21st century, since its “death”.