Light and time. Two elements that when put together in their raw state, make up photography.  We all know how to take a photo, but not many of us would call ourselves photographers. Photographs give us something to look back on. Photography is an art. The photographer is an artist who in one click can elicit feelings, memories, inspire creativity, imagine a different reality, take you to a place you’ve never been, leave you in awe of the majesty of nature and wildlife. World Photography Day, (World Photo Day) is a day that captures the science, art, craft, and history of photography.

Here, we’re taking a step away from the lens, to look at how this art was created and has evolved into the billion-dollar industry it is today.

The History of Photography

Between the 13th and 14th centuries, before the camera and the lens, there was ‘camera obscura’ – the object used to process images. A small hole was cut into one side of a dark, closed space. Light would come through the hole and create an image on the surface where it connects and then flipped upside down.

The invention of photography, like many things, was the result of tinkering with chemicals, experiments, and trials. The first official photograph was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 and needed eight hours of sun exposure to be processed. In 1839, the world was introduced to the Daguerreotype process. This process reduced exposure time to mere seconds and allowed individuals to create detailed images on copper sheets which were then coated with silver. Decades later George Eastman refined the process and in 1888 he developed the now world-famous Kodak camera. The rest, as they say, is history.

“The discovery I have made, and which I call Heliography, consists in reproducing spontaneously, by the action of light, with gradations of tints from black to white, the images received in the camera obscura.” – Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

What is Photography?

Photography is an art. It’s a process of capturing and producing images using a camera by recording light. This can be achieved by using light-sensitive film or electronically with digital photography. It’s a medium that requires skill, technique, talent, and artistry to capture key moments in time. Moments that when looked back on will tell you a story and give you an account of that period.

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things in words”. – Elliott Erwitt

Types of Photography

When it comes to the art world, very few people can do it all. True to form, photography is an art where photographers generally specialise and focus on a certain style. In the same way that not all artists paint, draw and sculpt, each photography genre requires its own skill set. This is not to say you can’t learn and become adept at another style, but it will take time, lessons, and mastering techniques vital to your success in that type. Let’s look at a few below of these types below:

  • Fashion photography
  • Portrait
  • Architecture
  • Wedding and event
  • Fine art
  • Street style
  • Sport photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Editorial
  • Wildlife
  • Travel
  • Lifestyle
  • Nature/landscape

The beauty of photography is you could find that one photo could straddle between two types. Or one may not fully meet the criteria for a specific genre. You could be passionate and skilled in more than one. The idea is not to limit or box the photographer in one thing, but simply give you an idea of the variety the medium has and you can enjoy.

What Makes a Good Photograph?

If you’re taking photos, or are the subject of the photograph, one thing you both want is for the picture to “wow”. You don’t need to be an award-winning professional or model to achieve this. Personal photos can be pieces of art or have the essentials: focus, sharpness, and good lighting.

If you’re using a handheld camera, you need to make sure these settings are balanced to give you that perfect shot:

  • Shutter speed: the speed at which your camera sensor is exposed to the outside/closes. The faster the speed it’s set to, the greater chance to take a clear action shot.
  • Aperture: your camera’s “pupil” – the opening in the lens where the light comes through the camera.
  • ISO: the camera setting that will lighten or darken a photograph. If the environment you’re shooting in is dark, you need to have a higher ISO. This is arguably the most crucial of the three settings because it can affect the exposure and ultimately what your photograph will look like.

Today, our phones can be of even better quality than some cameras and meet most of your basic needs. They’re light to carry, easy to use, and if you’re big on social media and sharing your pics, provide you with seamless integration into many apps. Need to edit your photos? There are handy apps for that as well. The quality is so good people won’t know the difference.

How to Celebrate World Photography Day

The advances in technology have put the camera in people’s hands and it’s quickly become a hobby of many. Photography isn’t exclusive to the rich who have their portraits taken annually, nor is it too expensive a hobby to take up. So, if you’re a beginner, your friend’s personal photographer, or a professional, you can celebrate today:

  • Smile. Say cheese. Strike a pose.
  • Learn more about the history and science of photography
  • Share your favourite photograph – shot by you or your favourite photograph
  • Enrol for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced digital photography course
  • If you’re a pro, teach aspiring photographer tips, tools, and tricks of the trade

Or reminisce with friends and family by looking at old photos and share laughs, cries, and stories about the Kodak moment.

There are many days celebrating and observing key moments in time. It’s not every day that each of us can fully participate in and connect with on a personal level. And that’s the beauty of photography, it contains the humanity of the moment.

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