Would you have become a photographer 70 years ago?

In the 1940s and 50s, photography was a totally different animal. The process of exposing a photograph that sometimes only takes split seconds today would take strenuous physical work as well as hours of careful planning, exposing, and developing back then.

The sheer amount and weight of typical photographic equipment and the manual nature of it simply forced you into what – in retrospect – seems to be an agonizingly slow and cumbersome process in every aspect.

Before you go ahead and vote to answer the question, watch the video snippets below to check out what it really meant to be a photographer.


Ansel Adams’ equipment.

Today, everybody is taking pictures. Most people do so not because of a burning desire to create what they visualize in their mind but simply because they can. Photographic equipment is omnipresent and available to almost everyone, and presenting your photos to a wider public is a matter of a few clicks.

Ansel Adams' exposure process.

Ansel Adams’ exposure process.

You often hear people say that you have to step out of your comfort zone to create meaningful art and to improve yourself. 70 years ago, photography in its entirety seemed out of the comfort zone of most people by a long shot.

Ansel Adams' post-processing.

Ansel Adams’ post-processing.

If you take all of this into account, it seems that the photographers back then had to have a very special type of personality and a deep passion that drove them to do what they did.

This is not about the ‘good old times’

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those people telling you that you have to shoot film to be a real photographer. I am not saying that the old times where far better. On the contrary, I think we’re blessed to live in the digital age with all the technology available to us.

Looking back at what it use to be like really makes me appreciate that. But it also makes me wonder…

Are we passionate enough about photography?

Let’s have a little thought experiment: Assume that a crazy scientist conducted some nuclear experiment in your neighborhood. Let’s say this experiment went terribly wrong, and as aside effect, you were thrown back 70 years right now. Would you take up photography ‘again’?

As funny and far-fetched as this may sound, answering this question will give you some real insight into your passion for photography. Would it be worth all the hassle for you to be able to create photographs?

If your answer is ‘No’, you may want to try and revive your passion. Try to get some new inspiration that gets you excited again.

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3 replies
  1. William Crane
    William Crane says:

    Not all photographers of that era – even into the 60s, would have had or wanted all that equipment. I had and used 35mm SLRs.


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