A1 : History of Photojournalism

Today I will be sharing part 1 of 3 assignments and my answer in my History of Photojournalism course. Feel free to write your comments or ask any questions and let's continue in our study of photography. 


What are the consequences of canonization of photographers 
in the history of photography?

"The Steerage" Alfred Stieglitz, 1907

In 1888 the Kodak camera was born ultimately changing the conception of photography. All of a sudden photography became an industrialized, social instrument at the hand of the masses. Anyone who has interest in it can now take photos of almost anything they wanted at any given event. Still there are a remaining few who thinks that photography belongs to the fine arts. This was the Photo-Secession movement. In America the foremost advocate to this movement was pictorialist Alfred Stieglitz. He authoritatively started the tradition of selecting photographers whose works are considered par excellence. And the public's understanding of photography's past was shaped further during the exhibit Beaumont Newhall organized in 1937 at the Museum of Modern Art. Newhall's History of Photography speaks of the technical development of photography. His work positioned photographers and their bodies of work to a higher plane. However, he overlooked the social importance of photography as a medium in major global events and focused on evaluation of genres and the aesthetic lineage of these 'masters'. This flaw also arrested the development of other specialized categories in photography, e.g. architecture, scientific. It also failed to look further the private aspect of photography created by amateurs dismissing them as pedestrian. Furthermore, these photographic 'masterpieces' were dominated by white male photographers, from Europe and America. Despite these consequences, photography was elevated to its refined expressive qualities. And as László Moholy-Nagy succinctly put it, "The illiterates of the future will be the people who know nothing of photography".


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