We often think of photography as the art of capturing a moment in a photo and preserving it for ever. This could be a child’s first few moments on earth, a special birthday, a wedding or even a once in a lifetime holiday. These photos hold a special place in our heart and are something that we share with others, particularly on family occasions.
Photography can capture so much more than just those precious family moments, however. For over a century it has been used to record important cultural events, buildings and even costumes; and you can find plenty of excellent examples of cultural photography on online photo sharing sites.
You can add extra lights and have separate areas ready for different projects in a professional studio. You can also buy the professional equipment like different backdrops, softbox lighting, ring lights and many more to capture the simple moments with you.
The first photos
The oldest surviving photo in the world was taken in 1826 or 1827. Using a technique called heliography, the shot was taken from an upstairs window on an estate in Burgundy, France. Whilst this photograph tells us little about life at the time, the image is rather unclear. The photographs that were taken in the years that follow include street scenes with people and buildings, many of which no longer exist today. They provide a fascinating insight into what many towns looked like, how people dressed and what life was like. They really do bring the history books to life.
Cultural skills dying out
Wherever you go on holiday you will see culture at its best in your destination, from clog makers in the Netherlands to the stunning woven garments made in Peru. Many of these important crafts are traditions that have been handed down over the generations but are sadly dying out because the younger generation want more from life.
Photography can help to capture a record of some of these cultures, the tools that are used, the craftsperson at work and of course the finished project, before it is too late, and they are gone forever. Whilst written accounts can be made to tell us exactly what the work entails to make a pot, it cannot capture the patterns and the colours in the same way as photography can. When you take a photograph of a handcrafted item when you are on your holidays you are capturing a moment in culture.
Show the world
Festivals that only take place once every year are something that relatively few people will get to witness in person; photographs offer an opportunity to share these occasions with the world. They may not capture the noise and the smells, but a good photograph will manage to capture the essence of an occasion in a way which allows the viewer to imagine that they were actually there.
Cultures and traditions are what attract people to want to explore new countries and this brings tourism and often much needed income to some areas where these form a significant part of the economy. Not only does this attract people to the area but it also serves as a very real, and vital, manner in which events can be recorded for posterity.
Taking photographs of a cultural nature in order to preserve culture and traditions is not just about pointing a camera and pressing the button. It’s about understanding exactly what is going on and making sure that what is captured is the very essence of the tradition in front of you. These are photos that document something that is particularly important to the subjects and should be treated with great respect, so that the correct recording of their culture is made for others to look at and learn from.