Archive for January 17th, 2013

From the Volante, Vol. XIV, March 25, 1901:

Although not usually productive of valuable artistic results, as a means of wasting time and money, amateur photography is a great success. It is, however, a dangerous pastime and should not be lightly indulged in, for once formed the habit of picture taking is well nigh unconquerable.

The beginning may seem quite harmless. Since the victim desires merely to produce a few souvenirs of interesting scenes and events, and not to attain artistic results, he thinks that a very small camera and a limited outfit are all he desires, and with this idea in mind he sends to different camera companies for prices and descriptive circulars.

The arrival of the catalogues causes a complete change of mind in regard to the kind of outfit required. The glowing description of the higher priced camera, of ingenious contrivances for making the work easier, and the beautiful photograph sent as “average samples of amateur work,” so fire his imagination that he sends an order at least three times as large as he had at first intended.

The first evening after the arrival of the precious box is spent in a careful study of the instruction book which accompanies each instrument. The next morning at precisely ten o’clock – the earliest hour advised in the directions – the proud owner of the new camera takes his first picture. All the remainder of that day and the next he spends in patiently developing, washing, printing and toning, before he finally displays the finished photograph. It is faint, blurred, stained and hardly recognizable; the victim’s back aches from the torture of the dark closet, his fingers are sore from the action of acids and his clothes are covered with bright yellow spots, but the thought that he has made a picture fascinates him and he immediately tries another.

By slow degrees he recognizes and remedies his mistakes and, as his pictures improve, proudly begins to show them to his friends. In this lies his greatest danger. His friends, with a mistaken idea of kindness, lavish praises up on him, and he, delighted by their compliments, insists on photographing them all.

He takes them singly and in groups, in every conceivable combination and position, and presents each of them with a dozen photographs for every word of praise regardless of the time and expense required, an amount which would have horrified him six months before.

If nothing occurs to prevent frequent indulgence in the fascinating amusement, he soon develops into a “camera fiend.” The whole world seems to him to revolve itself into a series of objects to be photographed, and nothing, from a farmer’s wife feeding her chickens to a kitten asleep under a tree, from a bride and groom on their wedding tour to a log by the roadside, escapes him. When he has reached this stage there is no hope for reformation. He must be classed with drunkards, gamblers and opium inebriate, and left to his fate.

–Written by W. D. Shouse or Marie Bryant

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: