Photography and Society : the visual revolution

Reading time : 3 minutes

Some works are treasures. They were a part of the lives of their authors, their daily lives, their hopes, their curiosity. Photography and Society by Gisèle Freund is a very small book of immense richness.

We read that the invention of photography, much more than a simple technique, transformed our perception of art and the world around us. In “Photography and Society”, Gisèle Freund reveals the workings of this change where photography imposes itself, beyond the simple capture of an image, as a new way of seeing reality.

Before the advent of photography, the art world was dominated by painting, sculpture and other traditional forms. These arts, even if they sought to depict reality, always bore the imprint of the artist, his choices and techniques. At the beginning of the 20thth century photography changed the situation, making it possible to capture reality while leaving interpretation to the observer. This change has redefined our relationship to the image and to the very status of the artistic work : the photo is no longer just a representation, it collides with the subjectivity of the viewer.

To art, photography has added new perceptions thanks to new techniques :

Contact sheet : This is a sheet on which negatives are printed, providing an overview of all the images captured during a photography session. Contact sheets are often used to select images to be developed in larger format.

Stroboscopic visualization : This technique consists of using strobe lighting to capture several phases of movement in a single image. It is often used in sports or scientific photography to analyze movement.

Big angle : Using a wide-angle lens allows you to capture a wider field of view than could be seen with the human eye. This can create a dramatic effect and contextualize a subject in its environment.

Depth of field : This concept refers to the distance between the first and last points in an image that are perceived as being in focus. A photographer can control the depth of field by using different aperture settings.

Bokeh : This is the aesthetic appearance of blurred areas in an image, often produced using a shallow depth of field. Bokeh can help direct the viewer’s attention to the subject of the image.

Bracketing : This technique consists of taking several photos of the same scene with different exposures, often to then combine them in post-production to obtain a perfectly exposed image.

Shutter Speed : The speed at which the camera shutter opens and closes can be adjusted to capture motion at varying speeds, creating motion blur or, conversely, freezing effects.

Composition : Although it is also important in other forms of visual art, composition in photography is crucial in leading the viewer’s eye through the image. Using rules like the rule of thirds, leading lines and natural frames are techniques specific to photography.

Graphic designers and artistic directors have drawn abundantly on these concepts which have changed the status of the visual in a historic moment of trivialization of the image, from the origins of photography to today. There is no volume 2 in which we could read that on the web, the image is reinforced by interactivity, the public becomes the subject of the visual experience.


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