Photographers are Chronists

In my previous post I talked about the value  that (touristic) images have and how it fades away when a motive is too well known. A very important concept to understand, is that most photographs are actually documentary material that reflect the time they were taken and the author. This gradually gets more interesting, the older the pictures get. At some point, people care less and less for technical and esthetic quality, but are simply delighted to see a little treasure from past times. So we have growing value of “banal” documentary photographs with age.Just think of this example: Imagine you would suddendly find in a basement somewhere in East Germany, a photo album with hundreds of images of the former German Democratic Republic (DDR) that showed family events and life on the streets in the early 80’s. As banal as this might have been 30 years ago, it’s worth so much now. Another example: think of pictures with the World Trade Center still standing. Those pictures have an ever growing value. Image you had a picture of Manhatten while the two towers where still under construction…

My point is, that as photographers, we are all unvoluntarily chronists of our time. That dosn’t mean that all pictures we take eventually become precious (especially not when millions are taken everyday), but it’s a reason not to throw them away just because they don’t suit our esthetic standards at first glance.

Personally I get a growing sense of nostalgia with old images of mine. The image I posted here just as an example is very special to me. It is the very first photo I took with the first digital camera I owned back in 2003. I was very excited when I saw the result. The cameras box is actually still on the table, which I find pretty funny. Back then I still lived at my parents place, the living room looked different from now and the Gamboy Advance on the left and my cell phone on the right were high-tech…

One thought on “Photographers are Chronists”

  1. “There is only you and your camera.
    The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are”.
    Ernst Haas

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