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Unlike most forms of art, photography is a very new medium, having only been invented in the 1820s. When the modern art movements of the 20th century revolutionized fields such as painting and sculpture, which had thousands of years of history, photography was still considered less of an art form than it is today. However, the spirit of experimentation in the art world nevertheless led to many different techniques used to capture a subject on film and turn it into beautiful prints.

One of the earliest photographers who treated photography as an art form was Edward Steichen. He was formerly a painter, and belonged to the school of photographers who expressed themselves personally in their photographs by creating them to emulate current styles of painting. You can see in his famous photograph of New York City that, without the technology that modern photographers have, he nevertheless created timeless works of art which seem almost like paintings with their soft, gentle lines. Though this style was only a brief fad in modern photography, it is thanks in part to photos like these that modern art photography is an accepted art form.

Another school of photographers worked in black and white to make vivid, highly realistic photographs. These photographers believed that they should take advantage of the capacities of photography to create highly detailed, accurate representations of people and places. Popularized by Ansel Adams  among others, this is the most common style today (though now more often in color) and is one of the most popular to own personal copies of. Crisp, realistic photographs of famous locations are especially popular; hanging a print of theBrooklyn Bridge  or Paris  on your wall can let your imagination escape to a faraway place, or remind you what it is like to visit somewhere you haven’t been for a long time.

Though those two conflicting styles of photography were the most common throughout the history of photography, like any art form there are always artists trying surprising and unusual things. In the very early days of art photography, for example, black-and-white or sepia photographs were often hand-colored in the development of the print. The practice of doing this to attempt a realistic look declined rapidly after the 19th century, though, and it was not until after the advent of color photography that experimental artists returned to hand-coloring to achieve an unusual or vintage look. Modern artists often pick certain colors or areas to tint using this process, and today the style has become synonymous in the minds of many with Kim Anderson’s endearing shots of children.

Other artists have tried methods such as collage, mixing photographs with paint, or special light-sensitive papers, but one of the most unusual alternative processes is X-ray photography. Steven Myers in particular is famous for using the medical technology of X-rays, which he worked with as a technician for years, to create lovely, otherworldly pictures of natural objects like flowers, with qualities hard to find in any other photographic method. Currently, many artists are achieving similar effects and more with new digital technology. Special examples of pics such as these are proof that, whatever your preferred style, the world of modern art photography will have something to intrigue and captivate you.



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