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The inventor Joseph Nicephore Niépce took eight hours to expose the first photograph and now there are more photographs taken in two minutes of every day than all the photographs taken together in all of the 1800s. It’s staggering to think that 6 billion photographs per month are uploaded to Facebook alone. Now everything from cute cats to the images that shape our culture … and pretty much everything in between is being photographed, photographs are everywhere and pretty much everyone can take a photograph. Comparing the crowds waiting for the unveiling of the pope from 2005 and 2013 and you can see the proliferation of photography, all in a mere eight years.
Whether it is a way to communicate, or perhaps a way to share or validate ones own experience, the nearly 200-year-old craft remains a powerful way of connecting and communicating.
A picture still is worth a thousand words and a masterfully photographed image is much more than a slice of time captured on a digital sensor, much more than a mere facsimile or representation of the truth. In a sea of imagery, a masterfully executed photograph is almost a mythical-magical object, it seduces us with beauty and aesthetic to draw us deeper into the subject, revealing so much within that fraction of a second, a universal humanity and at the same time, the shadows and subtext of the imagery can reveal a journey of discovery, a place where the viewer can find their own meaning. In this wash of images, coming from all forms of cameras, cameras on our phones, cameras on our watches virtual cameras, cameras everywhere, there are some images that catch our eye and make us take pause, images that transport us to a place or enlighten us with knowledge.
To celebrate 125 years of exploration, the October 2013 issue of National Geographic will be celebrating the power of photography. Originally formed in 1888 the explorers and scientists of the National Geographic society has been photographing the world for more than a century. Alongside the anniversary issue Nat Geo is launching Proof, an online photographic hub to engage an ongoing conversation about photography, art and journalism. Proof already has a number of pieces that shed light on the art and craft of photography. Photographers on Photography sits down with 44 photographers to talk about the love of their craft. The result is a glimpse into what drives photographers to the ends of the Earth.
Proof also features an interview with portrait photographer Martin Schoeller. It has been said that the photograph never lies and Martin reveals how he finds the intimate raw moments in his portrait sessions.
Foto 8 magazine will also be devoting the next eight weeks selecting photographs that exemplify the power of photography to move us. The series begins with a quiet image by British conflict photographer Tim Hetherington. One of the most respected young photographers of our time, Tim was killed in the line of duty with fellow photographer Chris Hondros when he was hit by a mortar shell in the battle of Misrata in Libya in 2011.
Goran Tomasevic has been covering conflict for more than 20 years and all he sees is the same thing. Yet he risks his life to bring back photographs of the conflicts around the world. The veteran conflict photographer talks about his duty to photograph.
Moises Saman talks to WIRED magazine in between covering the conflict in Aleppo, Syria. Moises discusses how he never set out to be a “combat photographer” and the circumstances that regularly puts him at the front lines.
The New Yorker features Matt Black’s photographs of the People of the Clouds. The Mixtec migrant workers who migrate from South America to California’s Central Valley for low-wage farm work. Black was disturbed by what he saw in these communities. Sublime in their beauty, the images reveal a generation lost in time.
Photography can reveal what was before unseen, a glimpse into secrecy. Photographer Anthony Karen sees trust as a foundation of photojournalism and he uses that trust to gain access to pockets of society that are often little understood. His current series featured in Slate magazine shows us an uncensored view of the Ku Klux Klan.
Photography has proliferated in almost every aspect of our lives, and even with instant access to so many images, the “cream” still rises to the top. There will always be images that become etched into our minds and become a part of culture, whether they are shot with the latest in photographic technology or your phone, the power of a great still is undeniable.
Here are a couple of fantastic Instagram accounts that prove that the best camera is the camera you have with you. Yes even a phone.
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