What Kind of Photos Did the First Amateurs Take?
We’re generally fascinated with things that our ancestors did using the tools available to them. Not too long ago, I heard about a tribe in Hungary who built a cannon out of a tree using medieval level tools. People used to build great, towering cathedrals and rotundas without cranes and steel i-beams. So, it’s only natural to wonder what the first “regular people” took photos of when cameras became affordable to the masses instead of staying a toy only of the rich and the professionals. Well, wonder no longer. Our friends over at GizModo have gathered up a sample of 14 photos taken by complete amateurs.
Oddly enough, many of these photos, if you changed the clothes on the people slightly, would be very much similar to the ones people take today. Candid shots of people in the street or children playing dominate the selections. However, the photo of the elephant is really cool. There aren’t any selfies which have become so common with mobile photography and ducklips are, thankfully, nonexistent. There also seems to be a distinct lack of smiling in these images. Granted, back in the 1800s, having a photo made was considered fairly momentous and so was a time of solemnity and seriousness — smiles and grins were considered goofy and a good way of showing how un-serious you were. Still, the subjects of these photographs are by and large the same kind of subjects we’d see in our own amateur photography: scenes from the market, children at play, and people sitting around reading or working.
The technology and the style of dress might have changed over the century but it seems that human nature and our fascination with ourselves has remained untouched.
— da Bird