The history of photography has been covered by many people over many years. What else is there to add? Well, I’ve recently been reading some biographies (Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo Da Vinci, among others), and I’m struck by the ability of writers to bring distant history and historical figures to life. I’ve been wanted to write about photography for some time, ever since digital took over and print photography became a thing of the past.
I spent much of my childhood hanging out in darkrooms watching my father work. He gave me his rejects, and I had a collection of horse photographs that was the envy of my little girl peers. In high school I was the photo editor for the newspaper and yearbook, and my fingers turned brown from being in the developer for so long (I could never stand to wear gloves). Then in college I spent more time taking and printing my own black-and-white photographs, the last being a series of photographs of my son about eight years ago. That was at the tail end of the availability of film (although you can still buy it online), and I haven’t touched a film camera or set foot in dark room since.
Nostalgia, and also a sense of curiosity, has propelled me to explore the history of photography for interesting stories rather than obvious facts. I will begin with Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in Italy in the 13th century, more than three hundred years before the invention of photography. What does he have to do with photography? I’ll tell you in the next post.