The importance of photography in history

The importance of photographs in our lives: Embracing nostalgia

Can you imagine our lives without photos?

Way back in history when portraits were painted, a picture was only as good as a painter’s imagination, skill, and often memory.

The importance of photography in history

A good example is the Charge of the Light Brigade:

Charge of the Light Brigade (source: Wikimedia)

So many artists immortalised the heroism of the British Cavalry. However, we will never know what really transpired during that time, will we?

Even with accounts, poems, and memoirs, the charge was still riddled with vague accounts and possible historical inconsistencies.

Fast forward through our mini journey through history to the American Civil War. Both the Confederate and Union suffered severe casualties.

The availability of photography and film at the time of the American Civil war meant these atrocities were recorded.

Photos were taken which showed the world the gruesome realities of war, and film even more so.

The world had changed forever because photography and film allowed us to record history.

World War 2 and the Vietnam war were also recorded with both photography and film, and this media has served to make the world far more weary about future wars.

Without photography, perhaps the Cold War which spanned 1947 to 1991 (an incredible four decades) may have been a far more devastating historical event if we weren’t reminded by the visual atrocities of war?

A single photography can influence the way the whole world reacts. With the recent invasion of Russia into Ukraine, would we be less involved without images?

This photograph showing the devastation of a maternity hospital in besieged Mariupol affected most of the world:

The importance of photography in history
Devastation of a maternity hospital in Ukraine (source: The Telegraph).

It takes one photography to influence the world to move to a cause.

We have seen how people reacted to the Syrian refugee who sold pens to feed his children. We have the picture of the Afghan girl to change the American policies regarding the Afghan war. And there are so many others examples.

Photos are our best illustrators, describing perfectly a situation.

Although the interpretation of a photograph is often subject to personal perception, most of the time they are the most accurate portrait and reference of an occurrence or event in history.

The role of photographs in society is indispensable, and they change our lives more than we can possibly consider. Without photographs, it is much harder to come by and decide without the aid of pictures.

In the end, we can all ask ourselves again, how we can live without photographs?

Photographs record our lives, and bring us memories

In the old times, it was a luxury to have our photos taken.

Back in those days, only the affluent and aristocrats could have their portraits painted and hung on their oversized walls. But then came the big black boxes known as obscura.

Obscura is Latin for dark room.

Artists used to trace images projected from a lens of box’s small hole. After some initial experimentation, a few inventors came up with a way to retain an image to a medium.

They soon realised they needed a powerful flash to create better quality photos. The development of flashes is a book in itself, and they’ve come along way since those old flash powder concoctions. Far more primitive than the electronic flash we have today.

Photos are constantly evolving. In our young tender years, we had pictures developed and printed to our standard picture paper. Then the digital formats came along, and many photographers today weren’t even around during that revolutionary transition (I’m showing my age).

Today, it’s almost ubiquitous to have mobile phones to snap a million photos in the shortest possible time. It’s so easy, isn’t it?

Pictures serve as powerful mediums. We are visual beings. We learn a lot from what we see. We love to see great and beautiful things. Photos have moved us to love, explore and make huge changes. These things influence us every second of our lives.

As the English idiom said, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Revolutions and wars have been won with aerial and climactic shots. Relationships perpetuated by intimate photos. If we have to quantify and qualify which are the best inventions since sliced bread, we should all agree and say that photos made everything forever.

The power of nostalgia and how photographs give us identity

I found an old photo in a drawer earlier this week. I confess it was my sock drawer, and the photo had been at the back under my least favourite socks I keep incase I run out of the better ones.

Finding the old photography was an interesting feeling. I had to pause for a while to look at it, and it took me on a trip down memory lane. So much nostalgia on one thin piece of photo paper, which brought back so many fond memories.

The picture was a college class picture. It helped me remember old friends, and also my first real crush – I should probably cyber-stalk her on Facebook, but of course I won’t.

It was so long ago, but I even remember posing for the picture. It’s funny how these things stick in our minds for decades only to be remembered once again by a single photo.

Finding this old photo made me realise something.

Photos are our connection to the past.

Photographs are so important to our memories. We use them to bring us a sense of identity and belonging to a group.

They also serve a vital connection to the present, bringing purpose to our existence. Photos gives us a pride and joy to be in that moment.

Photographs bring us that uncompromising and unrelenting feeling of nostalgia. They give us a sense of reminiscing. This feeling cannot be without a mindful presence. It may even sound as a reflex coming from within.

There are many reasons why photographs are important in our lives. What would we do without them?

Why do you think photographs are important in our lives? There’s a comments section below, so feel free to use it!

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