That’s gonna be a long post, sorry …
“Old” cameras made “click” when the mechanical innards did their job and the light was allowed into the small room, la camera, to touch the exposed sensitive material; be it the surface of a glass-plate or a piece of film – a mix of salt and silvergrains, the silverdots turned black, the negative was ready, fix it, develop it and have a positive on paper.
Basically nothing changed today: There is just no more silver involved and the picture in the small room is fixed in an electronical way, because the light touches a kind of sensor. The sheer largeness of this sensitive sensor’s surface determines the prize of the camera, the density of pixels and “technical quality” of pictures. What has changed are the possibilities and facilities to alter, to change, to manipulate the taken picture – via digital image-editing or processing programs you can get for free via web, think “Gimp”. That’s for the technical dillidalli – it has to work: The interesting thing lies beyond/above the technical side.
Taking pictures is more than clicking a snap. The basic paradoxon stays with us that this highly automated (objective?) act creates absolutely subjective results. A group of humans with a basical knowledge of a camera’s functionality will do absolutely different pictures of the same object that may be as boring as a brick or exciting as what you find exciting: Not two pictures will be “the same”.
And looking at pictures … different people will see different things, notice other details, have other connotations, ideas – not to mention the taste of each one.
I like the black-and-white photography, which is actually a photography of greys – the shadows and shades, the differences, the grading makes the picture.
You can have lists of “Masters of photography” and look at their work, people like Steichen, Stieglitz, Doisneau, Lange … it can only be an absolutely subjective choice, always.
Think of Magnum – what a mountain of images – the best worked here.
I want to draw your attention to a special b/w-photography that was done in the fifties in Germany. It is called “subjective fotografie” and the group “fotoforum” played a role in it. They did very “strict” or severe b/w-photography and stand in a kind of heritage or succession of the Bauhaus … so to say … such allocations are always different and better taken with caution: The individual artists may have seen that totally different!
The most known representatives of this movement were Otto Steinert (stub here), Claasen, Chargesheimer, Strüwe (go for “Bilder”), Marta Hoepffner (go for “Gallerie”), Helmut Lederer (no special site !), Adolf Lazi (who founded a school), and Hajek-Halke. In fotoforum Peter Keetman played a role, who did an impressive set in the Volkswagenwerk 1953 that set standards. Lauterwasser, Schneiders (who was a “Bildberichter“), Windstoßer belonged to this group. Go for the Schupmann Collection for interesting photography.
Besides these groups – an invention of the 20th century – there always have been individuals that did their work, their art of their own. I want to mention August Sander here (please note the English version), who found his very own and singular subject and way of photographing. A classic is Herbert List, who’s pictures after 50 years and more are simply unbeatable! That counts for Karl Blossfeldt too – go for “Das Werk” and see “Urformen” or “Wundergarten”.
Totally different are the pictures of “Mark Carrot“, who actually is Z. Markiewicz, Günter Blum (who only photographed naked bodies, so do not be offended), or Masterton’s “hutongs” …
A lot to discover. It’s just a click away … in black-and white.