Street Photography: Did you know?

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have been doing research for a presentation.  As it has progressed I began to realize just how much history we street photographers have to look back upon.  Not only are the photographers and photography fascinating, but so are the inventions and the technical evolutions of this wonderful art/craft/obsession.

So, did you know?

Street photography dates back over 170 years.

In 1834 William Henry Fox Talbot invented a developing process called Calotype that was used right into the 20th century.  He also invented a small camera that was approximately the size of a Brownie camera.   His street photography included scenes in both England and France.

Charles Nègre was a forerunner of urban photography in the 1850’s when he shot a series on open-air markets along the Seine.  He also experimented with motion photography by shooting with a stereographic camera.

Stereographs/stereoscopes became extremely popular in the 1850’s.  And, in fact, lasted right into the 1950’s.  “A ‘stereograph’ is a picture that depicts its subject so that it appears solid. Stereographs feature two photographs or printed images positioned side by side about two and half inches apart, one for the left eye and one for the right. When a viewer uses a stereoscope, a device for viewing stereographs, these two flat images are combined into a single image that gives the illusion of depth.”

John Thompson, a Scottish photographer, published  Street Life in London”, in 1877.  It was the first book ever based entirely on urban photographs.

Eugene Atget, who many regard at the father of street photography, documented every nook and cranny of Paris from the 1890’s through 1927.  He left at least 10,000 photographs and thousands of negatives.  By the end of his life, he had become reclusive but still he journeyed along, photographing the streets of Paris.  He still worked with a heavy box camera and a tripod, which were old when he bought them and outdated by the time of his death. His real acclaim did not occur until 40 years after his death.

George Eastman in the 1880’s invented both roll film and the Kodak camera.  This was revolutionary since it was now possible for everyone, not just professional photographers, to take pictures . . .

. . . and the 20th century of photography drew closer.

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