“Take Your Best Shot”


Figure 44. Thompson's Revolver Camera, ca. 1862

Figure 44. Thompson’s Revolver Camera, ca. 1862. Courtesy of the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film. from ‘The Miracle of Analogy: Or The History of Photography, Part 1,’  by Kaja Silverman.

“However, it wasn’t until the 1880s that the verb “to take” decisively replaced the verb “to receive” and “shoot” became a synonym for “take.” It was also only through the industrialization of chemical photography that this shift occurred. Most of the terms through which we conceptualize the medium were manufactured for us, just like our equipment and material.” from “The Miracle of Analogy: or The History of Photography, Part 1” by Kaja Silverman.

In 2000, well before my own photographic efforts began, and well before the arrival of archival inks, I found myself daily testing multiple papers (substrates) from multiple manufacturers, to create custom profiles to match image-to-monitor-to-printer. This was an elusive process, given the nature of technology in those days. Especially with a client who was insistent on his goal of achieving a museum level print with 99% reproducibility.
In simple terms, I held the raw textures of whites and surfaces and had the luxury of holding the image print post printer. (More like holding my breath).

Eventually archival inks arrived and print stability emerged as well. In my 17 years that have followed, I have been intrigued by how the earliest photography groups behaved as they struggled with the new born medium. I am dating my interest specifically to the time period of Gustave Le Gray and his works of 1850 – 1860. And of Société Héliographique, the first photographic society, whose members included photographers, scientists, and intellectuals. Their charter missions was  ‘To Hasten the Perfection of Photography.’

They lasted a little over 2 years and then collapsed before a deluge of commerce.

I feel we inherit a haste to purchase the latest technology with but scarce glance over our shoulders at how we have inherited the language we use around our photographic experiences. And we diminish our giving back to the image, the portrait, the landscape.

The question of what we might contribute back to an image, I will hold for further discussion.


Gustave Le Gray, Brig Upon the Waters




About Leslie D. Bartlett

I am a photographer Cape Ann Historian; as a Historian I present the heritage of Cape Ann through lectures, my photography and writings. As a photographer I stand speak on behalf of the image - most often a landscape image
This entry was posted in Eye of the Soul, photography, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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