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Styles & Periods
20th Century Photography

Photography in the 20th century is marked by its growth from a new scientific development into an art form with its own currents and history. In 1888 the hand-held camera was invented; primitive prints from colored film were developed in 1907; 1924 was the year Leica developed 35 mm film; and Kodak began to produce color film in 1932. These developments were crucial to photography's emergence as an art. Several schools have guided the evolution of artistic photography, and many have addressed the same themes of abstraction and expression that define painting and sculpture of the 20th century. The leader of the Paris school was photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson. His Surrealist-tinged work pioneered the presence of the “decisive moment.” The “decisive movement” refers to the moment of intensity that will give a photograph its own life. Dorothea Lange took some of the most memorable of heroic photographs. Her photograph of a widow and children in a migrant worker camp in California came to define the entire Depression. As the 20th century came to a close, analog photographic technology found itself quickly falling out of favor. Modern digital cameras and editing software typically allow photographers more control, flexibility, and precision. Analog photography still has its advocates, but it is safe to assume that just as analogue photography dominated the 20th century, so will digital photography dominate the 21st.


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