There was a time when photography was a niche hobby.
Before the advent of digital photography, traditional photography as an art and a past time, was expensive and exclusive.
Despite a flurry of affordable, handheld cameras that made their way into the mass market in the late 80s and mid 90s, the cost of good-quality cameras as well as the film and processing fees, usually priced out any amateur photographers who wanted to get more serious with their work. That was all soon to change with the popularisation of the internet – empowering those lucky enough to have access to it with the knowledge, resources and platform to express themselves in a way that amateur photographers had never done before.
Before the internet spread it’s way into the homes of millions, after the turn of the 21st Century, the only way to learn Photography skills would be by enrolling in a course or by buying a book – hardly practical for the working man who wanted to develop a sideline in photography. Fortunately for these would-be photographers, the dawning of the digital age led to a handful of developments that would serve to provide them with the means to become more than just amateurs.
Cameras used to be sold in either department stores (where the staff would know very little about their products) or specialist shops, which tended to be a little too intimidating for the budding shutterbug. As a result of this, getting the lowdown on what camera to buy and how to use it was nigh on impossible, unless you had a friend well versed in the subject.
The Digital Revolution changed all that, allowing passionate photographers to share their valuable opinions on cameras and even sell their old ones. Through marketplaces like eBay and specialist forums that are accessible to all, it’s now possible for amateurs to find and purchase the camera that is best suited to their needs and budgets, without even leaving the house.
Around this time another revolution was taking place; digital cameras changed the game in the worlds of both photography and cinema. Where once photographers would run through reams of expensive film and wait days for their photographs to be produced, they could now take a photo, preview it through a digital screen and have it printed off in seconds. These cameras were infinitely easier to use than their analogue counterparts; what’s more, year-on-year they dropped in price at that same rate that they improved technologically. The immediateness of this form of photography made digital cameras a must-have consumer electronic and quickly made legacy film cameras like the Polaroid, seem archaic and clunky.
It wasn’t long though, until the digital cameras, that seemed so futuristic and advanced at the time, were to be surpassed by a device that would find it’s way into the pockets of billions of people across the world…
Our next discussion of the development of photography will feature the technological rise of the smart phone, photo sharing sites and social media icons.