What has photography done for you lately?


Writing from a time before we all carried a camera in our pocket and took photography for granted.


pub­lished in 1903

From the preface of Picture Making for Pleasure and Profit published in 1903:


The pro­fes­sions and many lines of com­mer­cial busi­ness in which pho­tog­ra­phy has become a neces­si­ty and the sci­ences to which it is now an indis­pens­able aid and adjunct are too numer­ous to men­tion here; but a few cita­tions may tend to impress my read­ers with the impor­tance of this sci­ence par excel­lence.

In the prac­tice of law it is a lead­ing fac­tor in the pre­sen­ta­tion of a cer­tain char­ac­ter of evi­dence. In surgery, as exem­pli­fied in the x-ray, its per­for­mance is the mar­vel of the cen­tu­ry. In every depart­ment of engi­neer­ing it is employed to record the progress of the work. In engrav­ing and print­ing it has become a prime req­ui­site. In the ser­vice of the police it is the mute agent which restores the miss­ing to lov­ing friends, and brings the male­fac­tor to the bar of jus­tice. In every branch of com­merce, on land and sea, the speech­less cam­era her­alds the steady progress of indus­tri­al devel­op­ment. It makes all the peo­ples of the earth famil­iar with the lives and habits of each oth­er. It car­ries to the Ice­lander the warm scenes of the trop­ics, with their sun­ny skies and lux­u­ri­ant flo­ra, and to the sim­ple chil­dren of the Ama­zon it por­trays the rugged, rock-ribbed shores of Labrador and the vast fields of ice and mon­ster bergs, which rear their crys­tal peaks high into the drea­ry silence of the Arc­tic cir­cle.



To the micro­scopist it is his chief depen­dence for accu­rate reg­is­tra­tion. But not until we con­sid­er its rela­tion to astron­o­my, that queen of sci­ences, does the tran­scend­ing val­ue of pho­tog­ra­phy blaze out, like a flash­ing mete­or in the sky. With the mod­ern tele­scope it pen­e­trates the depths of space, and in one night obtains plates of the con­stel­la­tion of the Pleiades more rigid­ly accu­rate than patient astronomers have been able to obtain in a score of years with­out its aid. It wrests from the solar mass the secrets of ages, and records the stu­pen­dous con­vul­sions and explo­sions which occur upon its sur­face and pre­serves the immutable data of this won­der­ful phe­nom­e­na for gen­er­a­tions yet to come that they may be brought through the instru­men­tal­i­ty of pho­tog­ra­phy, into that rela­tion with the celes­tial bod­ies which will enable the com­ing high­er man to solve the great prob­lems of human life.”

Plus, if I am lucky I will get to see what my friends are eating for lunch in real time via Facebook!


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