Taking family photos has become a regular part of our lives, but have you ever wondered about the history of family photography? It’s interesting to know how family photos have evolved over time, from being a luxury that only the wealthy could afford to an everyday occurrence for many families.
The Early Days of Family Photography
Family photography dates back to the early 19th century when photography was first invented. During that time, photographs were primarily taken for documentation purposes and were expensive, so only the wealthy could afford them.
Daguerreotypes, one of the earliest forms of photography, took anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to create a single image. This meant that families would have to sit completely still for an extended period, making it difficult for children to pose without moving or fidgeting. It also explains why people didn’t smile in early photographs.
The Rise of Mass Accessibility
As technology advanced, it became easier and quicker to take photographs. The introduction of the Brownie camera by Kodak in 1900 made photography more accessible to the masses. It was a basic cardboard box camera with a simple convex-concave lens that took square pictures on roll film. It was also rather cheap, being introduced at the equivalent to $50 in today’s money.
By the 1980s, families were taking their photos using compact 35mm cameras. Rolls of film came with 12, 24, or 36 exposures, which needed to be all used before they are taken to a processing lab to develop the images. This process often took days or even weeks, which meant that families had to wait patiently to see the final results of their photos. Sometimes accidents happened, and you wouldn’t know that a shot was too dark or bright, or maybe someone was blinking, until the moment was long gone.
Despite the inconvenience of film development, families still cherished their photographs and would often display them in slip in photo albums in their homes. Many families still preferred to have their photos taken by a professional for a more polished look. Additionally, not everyone had access to a camera or the skills to take good photos. You would still go to a professional photography studio once a year, in your Sunday best, and take a formal portrait. These would be taken with a plain background or a pre-designed set, and serve as a formal documentation of your family over the years.
The Digital Revolution
Today, digital cameras have again changed the way we take and share family photos. With smartphones, virtually everyone has the ability to take and share family photos with everyone. The ability to take and retake to your heart’s content meant the role of studios have completely reversed. People now document their children’s growth daily or monthly, and studios are no longer the go-to place for formal family portraits.
Shift in Focus to Natural Family Photography
When we visit a photography studio now, it’s not just about getting a few formal photos for our album or to send to the grandparents. Today, the focus is on capturing the natural relationships and interactions within a family. It’s about creating a lasting memory of our family at a particular point in time. These photos are meant to capture the essence of our family, our personalities, and the special bond we share.
Professional photographers are no longer technicians working with complex equipment. Their primary skills have changed to being able to elicit and capturing these moments of your family, creating a relaxed environment that allows us to be ourselves in front of the camera. Whatever location you choose for your family photos, the photographer can find the best lighting and help you pose and interact with each other.
You are also no longer looking for lots of photos. Visiting a photography studio is not just about getting a pretty picture anymore. It’s about documenting our family’s journey and creating a tangible reminder of the love and connection we share.
Want to capture the love between your family? Contact us now and take your first step towards creating some beautiful heirlooms.
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