Photography: Escape in a romantic world

The ‘’new’’ medium photography comes, like painting and film, in many forms. Advertisements, instagram pictures, newspaper pictures and fashion photos; they’re all made with a certain purpose. The main element of photography when it became popular in the beginning of the 20th century was to capture the truth, that moment in time in the world. But like other forms of art, photography has its trends and feelings too.

Like my title reveals, I would like to place photography as a medium in our time. I can do that with quite a lot of material, but I will give three examples of romantic photography. They all are very different and are used in a different way, but are all important nonetheless. First up: Instagram.

Instagram is ruling the (digital) world at the moment. Profile pictures, feet in the sand, a Starbucks coffee: everything is getting instagramed. Photos look like they were taken in the ‘70s or when there was no color yet. With all the digital technology: why do we want a picture that is less clear and crisp? One word: escapism. Instagram gives us the opportunity to give our world a look we will never see in the real world. It’s a form of making the world more beautiful, more interesting and more romantic. The filters from Instagram are literally filters for our daily life. The real question, I think, is: for whom do we use Instagram? Do we just want to look interesting on Facebook or is it really an escape and an attempt to make your world more beautiful?

Another aspect of the world of photography is of course fashion photography. Every month the shoots in Vogue and other magazines bedazzle us. A lot of pictures are about selling clothes, but I see another quality that really problematizes the line between art and ‘’normal’’ photography. An example is the photographer Tim Walker. Tim Walker makes a lot of independent work but he also works with fashion magazines like Vogue. And what he creates are worlds we all can escape in. It’s not just about the beautiful clothes but also about the story. It sucks us in and it makes the world more beautiful. It is a romantic escape from reality, but also a romantic value you can make your own in daily life.

The last example I want to give has to do with both examples above. In our digital era it’s very easy to buy a camera and make pictures of the world exactly as it is. In that way, the goal of photography hasn’t changed at all! A growing group has turned their back on the technology and is doing it the old school way: Lomography. This phenomenon has become very popular and plays a big role in creating memories in a romantic way. Cameras like the Diana or Fish Eye camera are made to make the world look more beautiful and interesting. I’m the proud owner of both and take them on every holiday and sometimes just in daily life. The roll of film and the lens make a picture that is individual and personal. They romanticize the moment in the photo. With this romantic filter we can always look back at the pictures with a sentimental feeling and think: what a beautiful world I’ve seen.

The real question in this article is: why do we need all these help? Is the world really that ugly on it’s own? Some people might think it is, but the world has never been more beautiful. The problem is the eye of humanity. We can’t see clearly enough trough all the filters of worries, work and wrong. We have become incapable of seeing the world in all its glory. The trick is to stand still, to look out of your window instead of looking at your screen and just see, look, feel the world. Escapism is not necessary; looking through a romantic lens is something we all can learn again.

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– Gracia Visscher

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