Who “Invented” Photography?

I expected I wouldn’t like this video, given that I ran across it while visiting figitalrevolution.com, wherein it was reviewed as such:

While watching this video the word Photography did not come to mind…. the words pretentious, obnoxious, stupid and misleading did. Over-the-top promotions like this are nothing but porn for the cult of Leica and make me fear for their survival as a viable tool.

The lie that runs at the heart of this video is offensive: Leica invented “photography”? What kind of revisionist history is that? Many of the images featured here were shot using 4×5 cameras- which came out of the studio LONG before Leica came on the scene.

It’s too bad, because recreating these iconic images from photographic history is an interesting idea. But twisted to their own ends, Leica just ends up tipping their hand: they’re looking desperate.

I watched it and liked it, thinking it was pretty much spot on in addition to being well done.

As for the reviewer: I get it. You don’t like Leica, apparently for some of the same reasons I’m critical of them. However, the claims made in this video – certainly hyperbole from a strictly true/false perspective – are, in my humble opinion, pretty much on point. Love em or hate em, Leica “invented” photography as we know it today. You can argue around the specifics, but the basic claim is correct. Credit where credit due….


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5 thoughts on “Who “Invented” Photography?

  1. Ron Himebaugh

    As an homage, fair enough.

    It’s the marketing that grates. Ford Motors could do a commercial (probably has) prattling on about Models A and T, revolutionizing assembly, cars for everyone, etc. But like this Leica commercial, heritage seems divorced from what is on offer today.

    What really annoys I guess is that Leica feels a need to self congratulate this way.

  2. Scott

    Well, yeah, it’s marketing. But better than the average Ford ad, fun to watch, and nowhere near as offensive as the Capa ad, which used a real man’s actual death as a hook in an advertisement.

  3. Eric de montigny

    It is realy well made, a “tour de force”. Well i think i know why Leicaphilia likes it. At ten seconds time there’s the Robert Frank’s cowbow silouette. As a matter of fact i’m pretty sure Leicaphilia is a cowboy, think about it, leather clad riding a racing motorbike. Ok a bicycle in paris. Or maybe he was in a past life, not the seven magnificent type but the 7 samuraï one, you know black and white, that would explain the nikon in his life. (Kurosawa is the best story teller)
    No pun intended, always looking forward for your post.

    P.s. I could add, as well dressed as james bond, who is another lonesome cowboy in a modern western type story.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Funny you mentioned Kurosawa. Just watched Rashomon again last night after having found in a drawer a DVD copy I bought years ago. A work of art, although you need a maturity of vision to appreciate it. I remember first watching it years ago, probably because it was a movie one “must see”, and thinking WTF? What’s the big deal? Now, with some years and experience, I see what the big deal is: the nature of “truth.” Plus, the cinematography is superb.

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