The Era of Ubiquitous Photography

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In the reading of introduction to photography, it mentioned that we are living in an era of post-photographic, where we are accustomed to “read photo-produced images” while every day producing photographs that imitate photographic features without actually using devices with lens or projected light.” Nowadays, taking pictures becoming such an easily and common thing. Using portable device like your cellphone you can take good pictures and instantly share on social media with the world. I would describe this as a era that digitalization ruled photography and us.

I chose these three photographs from different period to illustrate.

                                               A Tanghulu* Vendor (taken in the late 1930’s)

This is a photograph taken in the late 1930s in Beijing by Hedda Morrison, a German photographer who created memorable documentary images of Beijing during her thirteen years in China from 1933 to 1946. Morrison later published a book called ” A Photographer in Old Peking” that included tons of photos that provided unique insight of life in Beijing at that period. This photo specifically, captured a tanghulu vendor on the street. This snack called Tanghulu or crystalline sugar-coated haws on a stick. Today this kind of candy does not require much promotion among young sweet-lovers in Beijing. The photographer took many photos about street life of Peking and the everyday activities of ordinary working people, especially the traditonal craft like the tanghulu. Even though tanghulu is still selling today in Beijing, but not like this traditonal way, so a photo like this not only present us the documentary of old Beijng, but “the collection of photographs is an important historical archive relating to the look of the city and the lives of its inhabitants that have changed beyond recognition since 1933.”

                                                                       Saigon in 1960s

This is a color photograph took in Saigon in the 1960s.  I really like this photo because it captured some precious moment that is bright, memorable and have story in it. It presented people’s life in Vietnam in 1960s. In this photo, we can see that it captured the bride and groom’s lovely moment in the car on their wedding day, where the man kissed his love and the bride smiled. It not only showed as the lovely couple at that time, but the interesting part is that outside the car, the face of these children also gave us strong impression. They looked like they have never experience or witness a moment like this before, which made the audience to think about the story and context behind the photo.  Unlike the black and white photos, the more recent color photo made the image colorful and vivid. This photo captured the lively moment and also created an interface of the image itself and the context of the story. It documented the moment which  I think is strong and powerful.

                                                   South Beach, Miami. Taken in March, 2018.

I took this photos in March during my Spring break in Miami.  I really like this one because I captured a dad and his son’s lovely moment. I want to use this photo to illustrate because it reflects the current situation that some people have about photography. I took this photo using a 35 mm single-lens reflex film camera. And I then send the roll of film to the photo lab that could help me do the film developing and scanning. It is not the way that we usually take photos today using a digital camera or cell phone. It is old-fashioned and time-consuming. However, I do think the trend of people started to reuse their old film camera in this digital age reflect the thought about what taking photograph really means today. Nowadays, photo produced instantly in digitalize form stored in their cellphone or computer, while fewer people choose to print it. Press the shutter button becomes easy because we can instantly see what we took and retake one if it is not satisfying. We could capture every moment of our lives at any times using our cellphone or portable camera. The process of taking photos becomes so easy and less time consuming and less cost maybe is changing how the picture taking means in the past. While i choose to use film camera instead of digital camera sometimes because i want to restore the moment where every shutter you press is thoughtful and precious, because you never know what is the real image you took at the time, this unknown journey maybe can take me back to the original intention of photography.


Irvine, I. “Introduction to Photography and the Optical Image.”