I have recently seen books on photography and among them are two of those I consider masters – Henri Cartier-Bresson and Samuel Bourne.
I have been particularly in awe of pictures by these two taken in India.
But what caught my eye was one by the legendary Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre taken in 1939. The picture, the first known photo of a human being, shows a man getting his shoes polished on Boulevard du Temple, Paris. He is the only one seen in the photo and the street otherwise is completely deserted.
The explanation is simple. The camera, and film, in those days was unable to capture any moving object and only what was still captured.
That is why the man polishing his shoes was captures while the hundreds of people, carriages, horses etc also there were never recorded.
This was an interesting aspect I was not aware of till I saw the photo in a LIFE book I have acquired recently.
I cannot but imagine what photography might have been in those days and I always compare it with now, when we can take, and send, pictures from anywhere, thanks to sophisticated mobile phones and the Internet.
Technology has come a long way but, in a way, those times of the large box cameras, the photographic plates and the skill, was what photography is all about.
It’s all become too easy now. The charm has gone out of taking pictures, what with Photoshop and all other gimmicks and gizmos that we have.
I don’t quite appreciate the fact many photographers, who call themselves professionals, “manufacture” pictures on Photoshop and other software, leaving aside their skill – if they have any, that is!