History of Photography

Photography was first acknowledged in the year 1839, the invention of the photographic process was made public. William Henry Fox Talbot's Calotype process created a way of producing positive images from negative with the use of light-sensitive paper. It became almost impossible to use this method as it required long stationary positions and no one was patient enough thus the recordings were mostly of landscape scenes.

Before this several, number of light-sensitive materials were experimented to capture the image from the camera though the first successful, permanent photograph up to date is credited to Louis Daguerre. His image captured on a silver-coated sheet of copper, whereby he used his “positive image.” It was titled daguerreotype process. The Artist's Studio is dated 1837 it was very difficult to reproduce and very sensitive. By 1840, portrait photography became more famous having reduced exposure time. Since then photography has been used in different fields. The improvement of technology has brought digital images of the 21st century.

Even though the industry develops more into the era of digital images, emergence of photography can still be traced back to early cameras, advertising and references. Scientific portraits are part of photography in which the private realm sought to convey the individuality of the subject. The portrait of the public personage, created image that resonated with the popular imagination but in this scientific mode the photographer was seeking to record objectively a subject who must be made to conform to a social type.

Such portraits show a picture that the willing ruling class, held the cameras and they used them in picturing the primitive, the criminal, the insane and the poor. An example of a twenty first century scientific portrait is the cube portrait by Samantha Power and John Prendergast, founder of the enough project. They put together five survivors of genocide cases. In the portrait, green bracelets are used and they had the inscriptions ‘‘not on our watch’’, this represented the emergent force universal of the movement to eradicate genocide.

Samantha Power’s portrait, showed how the individual was made to conform to a social type. As an advocate of genocide victims, she used her idea, the portrait to show the conflict in the world in terms of their views and lifestyle. Through her portraits, we get to understand the history of genocide, how far it spread and who it affected. This portrait describes how the weak are suffering and as Miles Orvell noted “scientific portraits showed that it was the ruling class that held the cameras thus they portrayed the weak, the poor the criminals, the insane” (Miles, 31. 2003).

Samantha having portrayed the victims of genocide is indicative that Miles Orvell’s description has some reality to it. The scientific portraits still portray the difference in the ruling class and the weak even with the development of the world and an end to slavery. In fact, the of this portrait shows the rights of the weak are being fought for. Clearly, this shows that despite all the cultural development, scientific portraiture has remained steadfast over the past century despite the cultural development and changing cultural and societal norms. As Miles Orvell noted “scientific portraiture still exists in the contemporary police photos and wanted persons posters” (Miles, 37. 2003), I believe they also exist in portraits made by human right activists such as Samantha Power.

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