Industrial Revolution

3641742012_122670f501The industrial revolution changed the way we create things and also the way these products are consumed. We went from individually made items to mass-produced items. Whilst this created jobs and boosted the economy, the impact on the way we treat mass produced items changed a lot.

There are now thousands, if not millions, of the exact same product, and this makes the products disposable. If it breaks or we want a new one, we simple buy a replacement. In many cases products are designed to break, so the customer will have to replace it. This keeps people buying and therefore makes the manufacturers money. However, we tend to overlook what happens to these products after they are disposed of. The vast majority end up in landfills, which are now filling up, so what will we do when the landfills are full?

When we had this lecture I wasn’t 100% sure of its point, or its purpose in photograph. However, having now thought about, discussed it with my tutor, and then thought about it some more, I can see that the commercialization of photography has a large impact on the world around us. The introduction of digital photography has definitely had a massive impact. Every couple months there is a new and improved digital camera that we should own. This is in stark contrast to the film cameras that have stood the test of time. For example, I have 3 cameras; I have a Nikon D5000, which is now practically a relic despite being 3 years old, a Nikon D300s for which there are already new and improved versions that I want and finally, I have a Pentax k1000. The Pentax 35mm film camera used to be my granddads. It was given to him when he was young, and he passed it on to me. I still use it today, and it works perfectly well. I am pretty sure my digital cameras wont be working as well in 65 years time.

The digital cameras are produced to be replaced, when the new version is produced we are made to want it, and dispose of the older models. They have a limited life span due to the components they are made from, and the advances in technology. These replaced models are sat on someone’s shelf, or in a landfill site.

A fear for the demise of photographic truth was one of the initial responses to digital image technology. …. In realist theories, photography was primarily defined by its technical basis: the way in which light reflected on an object or event in the real world is registared on the film emulsion. …. But it has long been clear that this aspect of the photo-mechanical process has only a samll part to play in the meanings that a photograph has.1

Another impact the industrial revolution had, more modernly, was the introduction of editing software. images are much more easily manipulated. Film images can be manipulated, and the photographer can take steps to ensure only what he wants is in the frame. However, film images are thought mush more truthful than digital. With Photoshop being commonly available, most people expect an image to have been altered in some way.

For me this leads to a few interesting questions.

There are negatives and darkroom prints that are hundreds of years old, will digital files and prints last this long?

Will digital cameras ever become ‘future proof”?

Does digital photography effect the environment more than the darkroom chemicals?


1Liz Wells – Photograph: a critical introduction. Pg 310


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