Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Old Photography

Well, it's late but I wanted to write a little something, as I am trying to beef up my entries. I'd like to write about one of my favourite antiques or collectibles.

Old Photography.

I love looking through old photos and old photo albums. They usually tell a story which is what I love. I think it's also human nature to be interested in other people, who they were, what they looked like, what they did and how they lived.

It's especially neat gazing right into old black and whites and seeing all the details that weren't necessarily meant to be captured. Perhaps a messy bed, something on the table or a cat running across the lawn.

There are several reasons I think that I am not alone in this interest, as the field seems to be gaining momentum. For most of us with the passing of every generation ancestors get farther and farther away, and who they were becomes hard to remember or lost altogether. For this reason I think we search for a link to the past, even if it IS through a strangers photos. By looking at them and owing them you get to almost own a bit of the past or reinvent your own forgotten one. The other side of this is that many times when I am working in an estate, the old photos are left, because family simply doesn't remember who these people were. So as demand increases, the supply seems to as well.

Another thing we cannot forget, is that with the dawn of the digital age of photography, actual paper photos are becoming a thing of the past. I think that in some strange way this has an effect on buyers and collectors. They recognize a shift and perhaps feel that pull to hold onto a dying art in some ways.

So, next time you walk by a big stack of photos at the flea market or in an estate sale, take a few minutes and meet your brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends, people that walked the same ground as you, only 100 years ago. They may have something to tell you.

Some interesting facts about photography
• The world’s first photograph was taken in 1826 by Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. It was of a view from his window and took 8 hours to produce.

• The oldest known color photograph was taken by Louis Ducos du Hauron in 1872. The photo is of a view of Angouleme in Southern France, taken 60 years before colour photography would be available commercially.

• The most expensive photo ever sold is Edward Steichen’s photo of a pond in Long Island, New York, in 1904, which set the world record at 2.9 million in February 2006.

• Modern, relatively high speed, high resolution photography has been around about 150 years, and only in the last 5 years, has the fundamental imaging technology changed from chemicals to electronics (the first digital camera offered to consumers was only 1.4 mega-pixels and cost around $10,000).

• Montreal based William Notman is arguably Canada’s best known and most desirable photographer, with his early composite photographs reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Alright so much for a short entry, but I love this stuff. Can you tell?

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