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Everyday life Photography

In the 1830s, Nièpce discovered how to print images onto metal plates. When he died in 1833, Louis Daguerre, followed by Francois Arago, continued to develop his research, resulting in the invention of the daguerreotype which consisted of an image printed onto a silver plate when exposed to the light. Together they had invented photography.

The first ever photographs began to appear. Initially used for research purposes, photography started to spread as daguerreotype studios opened everywhere. Black and white portraits immortalised the faces of the upper middle classes and were later used to capture all members of society. Celebrities were also a popular subject choice and many photographers specialised in taking their portraits, as Jean-Loup Sieff did all throughout his career almost a century after the invention of photography.

In the beginning, taking a portrait or even the simplest of family photos required a great deal of preparation and time in the studio. However, key technological developments brought about the invention of more compact cameras including the Leica and later the digital single-lens reflex, which meant shorter exposure times and made it easier to produce a greater number of photographs.

These advances also helped contribute to the development of the genre of everyday life photography, which became more popular at the end of the Second World War and focused at first on photographing wealthy or urban families. Families, couples, communities... artists were interested in everyday moments (marriage, lovers kissing, children's games). The simplest of moments in life were seen as the most important and were immortalised in film as testaments to the beauty of human life.

Some of the great photographers made a name for themselves in the genre. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, David Goldblatt, Martin Parr and Vivian Maier are only a few of the artists associated with everyday life photography.

Vivian Maier is an American photographer who was born in 1926 in New York. A professional nanny in Chicago, she spent her spare time photographing the world around her and produced around 150,000 photos. Having remained anonymous throughout her artistic life, her genius and photographic accomplishments were finally recognised publicly in 2007.

Cofounder of the Magnum Photographic Cooperative in 1947 alongside David Seymour and Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson was a pioneer of photojournalism but also an excellent photographer in a more artistic sense. He revolutionised photography by working with incredibly lightweight equipment. He didn't use a tripod or a darkroom and treasured a sense of immediacy when taking photographs. He believed that “above all else, the camera is a sketchbook". Henri Cartier-Bresson's photographic technique is unique and unmistakably recognisable. He never photographed with flash and only worked with natural light, something which was highly characteristic of everyday life photography. Often in the same black and white image, the subjects coexist together but are not centred. His framing, focus and depth of field all help us to see the simple beauty of everyday life that he so exquisitely enhances.

Artsper has a range of everyday life photographs for you to discover, including works from Cartier-Bresson as well as many other artists, whose photos reveal the precious moments of the everyday lives of men and women from around the world.

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