The ever-changing landscape of Digital Photography

Due to a rise in technological advances photography is becoming a dying art form. Over the past century, photographic materials have been advancing with each new camera having something bigger and better than the last. The technological achievements were among the best of the twentieth century. Changes brought about by the twenty first century, however, brought a damper on the art of photography. With the introduction of new technology such as iPhones and other handheld devices, photography really lost its definition of art.

Coming from a photographic background with over four years of intensive art core classes, my viewpoints and opinions are strengthened by the time and effort that I put into something that I enjoy doing. My camera has been used over ten thousands times, and with every exposure, I find more reasons to grow as an artist.

According to an article from Oxford Art Online, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first photograph in the early 1800’s. The photograph entailed the view of the landscape looking from his window in France. The process took approximately eight hours of exposure followed by holding the glass frame in front of iodine fumes in order to gain more tonal benefits. The result is now known as a “direct positive image”.

Throughout this past century however, photography greats such as Ansel Adams have made the art of photography known by many spectators. As John Swarkowski states in the introduction to Adams’s Classic Images (1985), “The love that Americans poured out for the work and person of Ansel Adams during his old age, and that they have continued to express with undiminished enthusiasm since his death, is an extraordinary phenomenon, perhaps even unparalleled in our country’s response to a visual artist” (

The first camera was sold to the public in 1888; the milestone “Brownie camera” really opened the public’s eyes to what photography is. Instant processing was not possible until 1948 when Polaroid introduced their instant print camera. The SLR camera of the late 1940’s was one of the most popular pre-digital cameras and can be found at most garage sales today. Where once having film to shoot photographs on, we now are a more digitally adept society. Film was a landmark all the way up until the early 1990’s when the first portable digital cameras were released. This met the rising demand for photography giving artists the opportunity to take many pictures at once and not be defined to only twenty-four exposures per roll of film (Oxford Art Online).


Film photography, now an art of the past, gave artists more to work with. Twenty-four exposures and an SLR camera always gave endless possibilities. The quality and richness of the black and white in each exposure gave a new meaning to what true black and true white meant. After taking a photograph, the artist spent hours in the dark room perfecting the image with just the right balance of time and light, creating a unique custom image. As time progressed, Photoshop overpowered the dark room and a digital age started sweeping the world. With the new digital age creating sensations, true black and white photography would never be the same, and dark room photography, once in every high school, would turn into rooms filled with Mac computers. Teaching students the time, passion, and atmosphere of true art would be replaced. Rich defying tones of freshly processed film would be cancelled out by a click of a mouse. The world of uniqueness would never be the same.

With this new digital craze sweeping the nation, Photoshop enhanced the photographic community. Photoshop was the “only computer desktop application to offer such capability”, as stated from an interview from the creators of Photoshop, which is classified as an “extremely sophisticated image editing and filtering techniques software”. With this new platform, photographic levels and intensities can be altered by all new means. A new art form of surrealist photography was born. Another way that Photoshop changed the photographic community was through filters. Filters are layers applied on top of images whether it is distortion, liquefy, or blur. Filters are also the main form of how photographs are posted on Instagram. Instagram was created as an instant photography platform where people can share their pictures to a bunch of followers, being a selfie or a work of art; Instagram caters to everyone’s needs.

Art is classified as creation of beautiful pieces: the creation of beautiful or thought-provoking works, e.g. in painting, music, or writing. Photography as an art from is argued to be not as involved as painting or drawing but as an artist it can be attested that working in Photoshop for a period of five or more hours really defines your image as if you were painting or drawing. Art museums and contests are growing fond of photography as a department. Museums and galleries are trying to involve photography to preserve the art form as much as they can.

The physics of photography can be viewed as the light, exposure and dimension that go into a photograph. Photography has been brought into the world of technology with the adapting digital platform. This really opened the doors to what photography has become. With the growing adaptions of photo sharing and instant posting, the sense of what Polaroid once strived for is really happening these days.

A growing debate in the photography field is whether a filter strengthens or weakens a photograph. A filter strengthens a photograph when an artists intended purpose is to give the piece a certain perspective but an overuse of this technique causes the image to be distilled and overly fake-looking. Every one of my fifteen photographs in my professional portfolio was edited for seven or more hours on Photoshop before being sent to the colleges that I applied to.

The elements of art, line, shape, color, form, space, texture, and value are the starting points to photography. Matter takes up space and as a photographer the artist has to see the space through the lens of a camera. As stated true black and true white derive from black and white film photography in a process called positive and negative exposures, which showcase one or the other. Although these are not traditional colors how they react together and how they are formatted place it in the color field. These are just a few examples of how the elements of art, which are used in painting, sculpting and many other mediums all, come together to showcase one common set of goals.

There are five main types of photography in the world today, commercial, fashion, portrait, action and landscape. Commercial photography is classified as anything that a person is willing to purchase. Whether it is at an art auction or at sea on a cruise ship, all art could be considered commercial. Moving into fashion photography, all magazines encompass this greatly. Typically a Rolling Stone magazine has eighty-seven pages of ads of their one hundred and fifty page magazine. These ads range from a variety of photographs whereas the cover is a solely fashion and portrait photography. Portraits are normally done in a studio setting, however holding a device out in front of you is not considered a portrait. Action photography is most commonly used in sports. Journalists take photos at a sporting event that are then sold to the newspaper companies for the next days printing. Lastly landscape photography, made common by Ansel Adams, encompasses the world around us showing the true beauty of nature itself. Whether on a train, bus or standing on the streets of New York photography is all around in everyday life.

How you take a photo, whether it is on a phone, camera or expensive DSLR, art is art. It is solely based on context. The meaning and art encompassed on sixteen megapixels is what will make you an artist, it is what will strengthen your passion and love for such an art form. Everyday in the world around us true art may not be appreciated by all but the ones who do appreciate it will see and recognize true art for what it is.

A true photograph derives from meaning. An artist statement is required for every piece of art whether it is exhibited or put in a portfolio. A meaning is only derived from the viewer, however. Art is a skill of not only craft, but also interpreting others work. Time, clarity and craft all derive from art but how one sees, art is the true meaning of creativity.