Happy World Photography Day

I started off World Photography Day early for me, not only taking a picture but printing it out as a card a delivering it to the client (my wife) before 9am. Not a great picture of a rose but one that had more or less immediate use.

I only remembered it was World Photography Day a few minutes later when I read my e-mail from Shahidul News. Daguerre process had been announced by the French Academy of Sciences on 9 Jan 1839, but it was on 19 Aug 1839 that the French government made a gift of the process to the world.

Or at least to parts of it. Perhaps the reason we don’t make much of this celebration in the UK is that ‘the world’ for the French did not include us, and Daguerre patented the process here so those wishing to make Daguerreotypes in England had to pay for a licence.

This, along with our imperial need for Britain to have invented everything, doubtless contributed to this country always regarding W H F Talbot as the true inventor of our medium. Hearing about Daguerre’s announcement he rushed out some details of his ‘photogenic drawing’ and presented them within days, although it was not until a couple of years later that the calotype, almost certainly the first workable negative/positive process was introduced.

Now of course we have largely abandoned the whole family of processes that descended from that branch and perhaps even in the UK can acknowledge the priority of the French pioneers – Nièpce as well as Daguerre.

Shahidul News comes from photographer Shahidul Alam, the founder of Drik, and also on the blog is an interview between him and Shehab Uddin, which you can also read along with Uddin’s photographs of Dhaka’s pavement dwellers on the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund site.

In it Alam desribes “Drik’s photography-philosophy–in telling rich and diverse stories without compromising the subject’s humanity–we just had to create a whole space for ourselves. And now we are telling our own stories.”  Drik really is an incredible and inspirational story and has led to a tremendous volume of great photography dealing with important issues across the majority world. You can follow some of the links in Alam’s blog to see some of it.

Photography may have started in France (and England) and perhaps came of age in the twentieth century in Europe and the USA. But now much of the more interesting work is happening elsewhere.

Anyway, I’m going out to celebrate the day by telling some more stories.

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