The Power of Photography
Photographers use their cameras as tools of exploration, passports to inner sanctums, instruments for change. Their images are proof that photography matters—now more than ever. By Robert Draper Thirty-four years before the birth of this magazine, the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard sourly prophesied a banal fate for the newly popularized art of photography. “With the daguerreotype,” he observed, “everyone will be able to have their portrait taken—formerly it was only the prominent—and at the same time everything is being done to make us all look exactly the same, so we shall only need one portrait.” The National Geographic Society did not set out to test Kierkegaard’s thesis, at least not right away. By wresting a precious particle of the world from time and space and holding it absolutely still, a great photograph can explode the totality of our world, such that we never see it quite the same again. Today photography has become a global cacophony of freeze-frames.
• history of photography
• what is needed in photography