A wonderful and insightful article in the Atlantic Monthly on our emergent and evolving art form within a historical context, by Alexis Madrigal, senior editor for TheAtlantic.com.
Many works like Edward Steichen’s “Flatiron–Evening Camera Work 14” (above) play with fog and smoke. They hide things in the greyscale and even tend toward a hazy abstraction. Everything becomes a little harder to see and a bit more romantic. I’d long, lazily assumed that turn-of-the-century photos looked like this because of technical reasons, that this was just how cameras made photos at the time. That’s not true. These photographers were skilled enough and their techniques good enough that they could have made razor sharp portraits, but they didn’t. Instead, we have two decades where the best photographs work like memories not recordings.
To my modern eye, they share that impressionism the intentionally digitally degraded cell phone snapshot, all soft-focus and odd-lighting.
Read the whole article here and be sure to read the comments: some great insight therein.
It is also great to see our very own Maia Panos get some well-deserved recognition.