The past lessons we have been urged to look into the history of photography and what I found quite relieving when digging into this colorless past of ours, is that what you see, is usually exactly what you get. No editing. No Photoshop. So Yes, my header image is a dead man with metal threads in his eyes. Because the exposure time took so long in the past, sometimes up to several hours, photographers that wanted to take shots of medical surgeries as above, could only do so, on dead people.
Before this gets too dark, I need to say that I found some exceptions that made me rethink my theory of the no-fake era.
Oscar Gustav Rejlander( Sweden, 1813 –London, 1875 ) is the man behind this exception. It is believed that through various experiments with photography, Oscar landed on the use of combination printing(1857) to create images with twists of fantasy and art. Combination printing is a technique of combining two or more negatives and creating one single image out of them. With this technique, photography took a turn from being a tool for capturing real life moments, to a tool through which the imagination could be set free.
Experimental photography found it’s place in Oscars creative mind and not long after, he came out with his best know photomontage, which might just have been one of the most ambitious and controversial photographs of the nineteenth century.
The way of life (1857).
32 images, 6 weeks work and some help from young prostitutes that didn’t mind having their naked body put to public display. In a time where a skirt above the ankle seemed indecent, it is needless to say that his work did get some critic. The voice of protesters faded quickly though, especially after Queen Victoria purchased a copy as a gift for Prince Albert.
Oscar went on to become a leading expert in photomontage, photographic manipulation and retouching and can now be found under the pseudonym “The father of Art photography” on google.
I consider his most important work to be the creative freedom he has given photographers through his own attempts at making something different.
history-of-photography <- Homework, learning activity task 1&2