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Re-framed: COVID-19’s effect on photography

Written by Arts

It is not hard to notice the physical changes the pandemic has had on cities all over the world. Cities remain somewhat empty, and the shift to working-from-home leave office buildings appearing dystopian – how do we know this occurance is universal? Photography, of course.

The humble film camera was first created in Paris back in 1826, and since then has become one of the most accessible forms of art. The status and meaning of photography has changed hugely in the two centuries it has been snapping around. This is especially true as we enter the new AC (After Corona) way of life. 

Photography began as a luxury; only those with enough money to afford the film camera could indulge in the memories captured on film. Even the wealthy had to be wary of how much they were spending on developing their pictures. Photos took several days to develop; a strange concept in an era where Snapchat is one of our fasted means for communication. The length of time it took to develop film made the art of taking a photo much more valued back then than it is today.

The first photograph of a human being
Supposedly the first photograph of a human | Credit: Mashable

In 1999, the photography industry began to change. The invention of the camera phone resulted in photography shifting from a luxury to a commodity. The value of the photo lost meaning, and became degraded. People began to snap their photos simply because they could. This only worsened with the invention of Snapchat, where photos are nothing more than a means of communication.

In the age of BC (Before Corona) Instagram was a platform used for social validation, filled with photos of a cocktails and smiling faces of friends pasted all over one’s feed. The platform was initially created for people to share news of their travels, specifically as a creative platform for rising travel photographers – hence the name Instagram (instant telegram). It was intended to be a platform for sharing important photos with people across the globe. However the platform has turned toxic in recent years as people no longer share important news, but simply share photos of others to validate their social life. 

As we enter AC, the world of Instagram and photography has changed for the better. The status of photography in a social sense has moved from documenting social gatherings, to documenting nature and the beauty of the planet. As travel was reduced, the status of the photo and photography became something which was far more respected. People found amusement in the hobby, rather than simply snapping every second, just because they could.

Photography has also become a resource, exposing the radical situations of different countries, and with the restriction on travel sharing these images on social media allows people in different continents to be informed. Photos of derelict office buildings and ghost cities results in citizens everywhere to be able to unite over the rise of the ‘new normal’, as well as travel the world whilst sat on one’s sofa. 

In many ways photography has returned to the art form it once was. Despite the coronavirus casing catastrophic change for almost every other industry, the pandemic has allowed photography to flourish as a respected form of art, and a device used to spark social change. 

Featured Image: Ocean Outdoor

Last modified: 17th September 2020

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