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Essay: Photography globalisation and propaganda

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Since the dawn of mankind people were always trying to record their presence on this planet. From cave drawings and all kinds of petroglyphs, hieroglyphics and other kinds of writings and carvings in stones, pyramids and every other type of temples around the world we can see that we as a race had always been under the influence of visual stimuli as a way of transferring messages, stories and every other knowledge that we have obtained thru history. Obviously, we can see thru history, that artistic part of capturing the world around us (and/or our daily lives) played a great role in defining us as a species in some cases up to the point of being obsessive.

That`s why it’s not so strange that the invention of photography as a way that every one can with the simple click of a button capture and store every moment of their lives (even though the process itself wasn`t so easy in the beginning, as we shall see in short during the essay) became one of the most widely used medium, as in daily life, so in every part of creative industries (and every other part of our society that has a need for visual presentation or recording of things and events).

As we progressed as a society to a point that everything is about consumerism and product placement, no matter what part of industry we are talking about, as simplified way of capturing items for matters of advertisement, propaganda and every other means of presentations, photography took a leading role in globalization, and is definitively here to stay.

In today’s society, photography plays an important role to our visual minds and it has always been considered to have a special status for truthfully recording the world and making people perceive photographs as something real. (UK Essays, 23, March 2015.)
Even though, with the appearance of the editing firstly techniques and today software’s, this is not nearly close to the truth. In 90% of the cases the picture you are seeing in magazines on internet are re-touched and edited, from smallest cropping to entire re-touching of models and everything else in the picture.

So, in truth, we never get the truthful picture anymore, which by itself is a paradox.

Nevertheless industries and marketing flourish having millions of consumers one click away thru social networks and world wide web, that are used to this kind of marketing being that the years have passed with this kinds of influences all over. There are now generations of people that grew up in society that is overwhelmed with advertisements and images that are not real and make unreal expectations of what reality is and who we are as a people, just so some product could be sold. From one of the most noble and truth full art form, with globalization of creative industries and corporate marketing, photography became most common way of `propaganda` and false representation on this planet, but being so use-full itself made this situation possible.


The word photography was first used by the scientist Sir John F.W. Herschel in 1839.

It comes from the French photographie which is based on the Greek φώς (phos) light + γραφίς (graphis) stylus / paintbrush or γραφή (graphê) representation by means of lines / drawing, together = drawing with light.

Photography is the science and art of recording images by means of capturing light on a light-sensitive medium, such as a film or electronic sensor. Light patterns reflected or emitted from objects expose a sensitive silver halide based chemical or electronic medium during a timed exposure, usually through a photographic lens in a device known as a camera (see Figure 1 p 4) that also stores the resulting information chemically or electronically. (Curious-eye.com, c2009)

Figure 1 – Photography


The Chinese were the first people that we know of to write about the basic idea of the pinhole camera. About 2,500 years ago (5th Century BC) they wrote about how an image was formed upside down from a “pinhole” (see Figure 2 p 5 ) on the opposite wall. About 2,400 years ago (4th Century BC) the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle talked about a pinhole image formation in his work. He wondered why “when light shines through a rectangular peep-hole, it appears circular in the form of a cone?” He did not find an answer to his question and the problem was not answered until about 1600 years later in the early 1000s AD. (Curious-eye.com, c2009)

Figure 2 – “pinhole”


The invention of the camera obscura (see Figure 3 p 5) is attributed to the Iraqi scientist Alhazen and described in his Book of Optics (1011-1021). English scientists Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke later invented a portable camera obscura in 1665-1666. In the 1500s many artists, including Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, used the camera obscura to help them draw pictures.

This drawing below, made in 1652, shows an outer shell with lenses in the center of each wall and an inner shell with transparent paper for drawing. The artist entered by a trap door in the bottom. (Curious-eye.com, c2009)

Figure 3 – Obscura


In 1816 Frenchman Nicephore Niepce made a crude wood camera fitted with a microscope lens. He invented Heliography around 1826, which he used to make the earliest known permanent photograph from nature. The process used bitumen, as a coating on glass or metal, which hardened in relation to exposure to light. When the plate was washed with oil of lavender, only the hardened image area remained. (Curious-eye.com, c2009)


Louis Daguerre (1789 – 1851), in collaboration with Nicephore Niepce invented the first practical photographic process in 1837 which was widely used in portraiture until the mid 1850s. A brass plate coated with silver was sensitized by exposure to iodine vapor and exposed to light in a camera for several minutes. A weak positive image produced by mercury vapor was fixed with a solution of salt. In 1839 the French government purchased Daguerre’s French patent and offered the daguerreotype as “a gift free to the world”. Daguerre, however, did maintain control of the patent throughout the rest of the world. (Curious-eye.com, c2009)


George Eastman introduced celluloid based film in 1884, and the small portable easy-to-use box camera (see Figure 4 p 6 ) in 1888. Photography could now reach the masses: once the 100 shots on the camera had been taken, the camera was sent back to Kodak for film processing, new film was loaded, and the camera was returned ready-for-use to the owner. (curious-eye.com, 2009)

Figure 4 – Box Camera

The TLR camera(see Figure 5 page 7) has two objective lenses of the same focal length. One of the lenses is the photographic objective (the lens that takes the picture), while the other is used for the waist-level viewfinder system. The fixed mirror deflects the light rays coming through the lens to a top screen, which shows the image upright but laterally reversed. Light from the object also goes through the taking lens, which is mounted on a common panel with the viewing lens, and is projected on the film. (1994 Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Inc.)

Figure 5 – TLR camera


In 1913 a German design engineer, Oskar Barnack, produced a prototype 35mm camera. In 1924 the camera went into production at the Leitz factory in Germany. It was called the Leica from the initials of “LEItz CAmera”.


The introduction of the roll-film system stimulated the development of cinematographic apparatus. Early in the twentieth century, concurrent with the rapid growth of amateur photography, an American cinematographic industry began to emerge, with innovators in projection equipment assuming the initial leadership. At the end of the first decade of the century a number of firms producing apparatus and commercial films combined their patents and other assets to form the Motion Picture Patents Company. It sought to limit competition in the motion picture industry, but adverse court decisions in an anti-trust suit and a series of product and marketing innovations brought the organization’s demise within a decade. Large new corporations that integrated production, distribution, and exhibition functions emerged by 1920 as the new leaders of the cinematographic industry. These included Paramount, Fox, and Loew. The introduction of sound films in the late 1920s altered this structure somewhat as the innovators, Warner and RKO, joined the small group of leaders.

Meanwhile, the rapidly growing demand for raw cine film greatly stimulated Eastman Kodak’s film production, where the production of cine film substantially exceeded the production for still photography after 1910. Although the company carefully avoided entry into the professional cine field, the territory of its largest customers, it introduced home movie equipment with nonflammable film in the early 1920s. In the late 1920s the company developed and introduced a series of color processes for motion pictures.

During the middle 1940s the motion picture industry enjoyed its greatest success, but soon the introduction of television inaugurated a quarter-century of decline. In response the industry introduced spectaculars; three-dimensional and wide screen productions; new exhibition methods, such as drive-in and shopping-center theaters to replace the giant downtown movie palaces of an earlier era; and, later, low-budget, sensational movies featuring sexuality and violence.

In still photography between World War I and World War II the German industry began to compete with the American. German camera makers, influenced by cinematography, introduced in the early 1920s small 35-mm cameras that appealed to journalists and serious amateur photographers. Also, in the late 1920s Ansco, which had faltered since its founding because of limited capital and technical resources, sold its assets to the I. G. Farben-Industrie and became the American outlet for the research-oriented German photographic industry. During World War II the U.S. government assumed ownership and operation of the firm, and the government relinquished ownership only in 1965, when the firm became a public corporation, General Aniline and Film (GAF).

Professional photographers were typically in the forefront of technology and trends. To compensate for the disappearance of skilled portraiture and documentation in the wake of the 35-mm revolution, photographers turned to publishing and advertising. Their favorite camera was a 2-inch format equipped with motor drives, multiple lenses, and sophisticated lighting devices. Fine-art photographers devoted considerable energy to experimenting with equipment, format, film, and paper, and their subjects tended toward the eclectic. Beginning in the late 1940s, they attempted to capture “private realities,” a quest drawing inspiration from Eastern religious philosophies, psychoanalytic theory, and abstract expressionist painting. Its popularity in the United States stemmed from the postwar economic boom, the ability of former military personnel to attend art schools at federal expense, and the founding of the Institute of Design, the Western Hemisphere’s version of the Bauhaus, which advocated a “new vision” of interpreting common places in personal ways. (Dictionary of American History, 2016)


The basic operation of a DSLR is the same as a SLR. For viewing purposes, the internal mirror set at a 45 degree angle reflects the light coming through the lens up at a 90 degree angle into a pentaprism where the image is inverted so it can be seen through the viewfinder the right way up.

During an exposure, the mirror swings up, the aperture stops down to the selected size, and the shutter opens exposing the electronic sensor placed on the focal plane to light. At the end of the exposure, a second shutter closes back over the sensor, the mirror drops back into place, and the first shutter resets. (curious-eye.com, 2009)

The high cost of digital cameras through the mid-to late-1990s delayed their widespread use, but a rapid drop in prices in the late 1990s and early 2000s, coupled with a rapid increase in the memory and resolution capabilities of affordable digital cameras, created a booming market for amateur digital cameras and to industry predictions that they were poised to do to the traditional silver halide photography market what camcorders did to Super-8 home movies. (Dictionary of American History, 2016)


All around the world, the creative and cultural economy is talked about as an important and growing part of the global economy.
The term refers to the socio-economic potential of activities that trade with creativity, knowledge and information. Governments and creative sectors across he world are increasingly recognizing its importance as a generator of jobs, wealth and cultural engagement. At the heart of the creative economy are the cultural and creative industries that lie at the crossroads of arts, culture, business and technology. What unifies these activities is the fact that they all trade with creative assets in the form of intellectual property (IP); the framework through which creativity translates into economic value. (Britishcouncil.org, c2011)

The term ‘creative industries’ describes businesses with creativity at their heart – for example design, music, publishing, architecture, film and video, crafts, visual arts, fashion, TV and radio, advertising, literature, computer games and the performing arts.
Broadly speaking, the term ‘creative industries’ refers to a range of economic activities that are concerned with the generation and commercialization of creativity, ideas, knowledge and information. (Parrish, 2016)

The UK’s definition of the creative industries – ‘those industries that are based on individual creativity, skill and talent with the potential to create wealth and jobs through developing intellectual property’ – includes thirteen sectors: advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure software (ie. video games), music, the performing arts, publishing, software, and television and radio. Because it was the first definition offered by a government, this original UK definition has been widely adopted by other countries, with sectors adapted based on local commercial and cultural importance. (British Council, 2008)
So we can see here that most every part of creative industries has connection with photography that doesn`t need to be pointed out.


`Advertising is the art of arresting the human intelligence just long enough to get money from it.`

— Chuck Blore, a partner in the advertising firm Chuck Blore & Don Ruchman, Inc., quoted by Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, (Beacon Press, 2000), p.185.

Advertising in it’s essence is a form of communication. Communicating about products and ides we want to spread or sell. Being that photographs are visual communication it’s obvious why photography had center row in globalization of industry.

Photography has played a major role in globalizing local issues, influencing judgements and outcomes in many facets of societies worldwide. The international interaction and integration of economies, cultures and trade, has been taking place since ancient times. However, with the rapid advancement of technology in the 21st century, the ease of inter connectivity and interdependence in international relations has made the world a smaller place. (francessmithcontext.wordpress.com, 2014)

Ever since mass media became mass media, companies have naturally used this means of communications to let a large number of people know about their products. There is nothing wrong with that, as it allows innovative ideas and concepts to be shared with others. However, as the years have progressed, the sophistication of advertising methods and techniques has advanced, enticing and shaping and even creating consumerism and needs where there has been none before, or turning luxuries into necessities. This section introduces some of the issues and concerns this raises. As corporate competition has increased, so too has the need for returns on massive expenditures on advertising. Industries spend millions, even billions of dollars to win our hearts and minds, and to influence our choices towards their products and ideas. This often means such media outlets attract greater funds than those outlets funded through public funding or TV licenses. (Shah, 2012)
Someone once said that a person’s perception of reality is a result of their beliefs. In today’s age, many of those beliefs are in some ways formed or influenced via the mainstream media. It is therefore worth looking at what the media presents, how it does so, and what factors affect the way it is done.

It has long been known that advertisers will “photoshop” (slang for editing photos to touch up or airbrush out imperfections) photos to make the subject more attractive. But many have pointed out that this subtle manipulation often goes too far. (Shah, 2012)


Photo manipulation is the process that alters photos, aesthetically improving the picture or changing the content of a picture, in order to create a unique image which can provoke illusion or deception. Nowadays technology has advanced so much that anyone having a computer and an image-manipulation software can digitally retouch pictures which can create a visual impact, deceive, influence or offer benefits. Manipulating photographs is nothing new, however and we have got the opportunity to see digital manipulation of images everywhere like in the news, advertising, music and film culture etc: “All images that appear in the press are manipulated in one way, shape, or form, whether they’re by choice- by that image being chosen over another – or by cropping, or by digital manipulation. You’re being manipulated a thousand different ways, and as long as you are somewhat aware of the fact, then there’s not so much to be afraid of. But if you think that what you’re seeing is the truth, then you’re in for big trouble(David Byrne, 1994)” (dezvolta in ce domenii se fol photo manipulation; ajungi cumva la subiect-efectul in beauty industry).

For example, young people — girls in particular — are often bombarded with imagery of the “perfect” bodies. Younger minds are more malleable and impressionable, so even when it may be known that these images are manipulated, the constant message everywhere a young person turns says the same thing: this is how you should look and behave and something must be wrong if you are not achieving these (unrealistic) expectations of perfection. (Shah, 2012)


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