Loss of Light: The Long Shadow of Photography in the Digital Age

Jeannene M. Przyblyski

in The Oxford Handbook of Film and Media Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195175967
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Loss of Light: The Long Shadow of Photography in the Digital Age


This article discusses the constant presence of photography in the digital age. It determines the reasons why photography is still needed in modern culture and presents a detailed discussion of the history of photography. It begins with a section on the two individuals credited for the invention of photography: William Henry Fox Talbot, and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. It then looks at the early commercial applications of photography, such as portraiture and a tool for disciplinary authority. It considers the possibility of the photograph as a historical document and how it became a privileged image of official record. The article concludes that while digital technology has quickly replaced the light-sensitive chemicals, it has failed to replace the ethical and cultural place of photography as a mode of truth telling, a way of knowing the world, and as a system of representation.

Keywords: photography; history; William Henry Fox Talbot; Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre; early commercial applications; historical document; official record; digital technology

Article.  13046 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Film

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