The 1920s marked an influential period in the history of photographs and cameras. SLR, or single lens reflex technology became more prevalent during the decade. Photographers of the epoch demonstrated an interest in important aesthetic movements which began to flourish after World War I. Several noteworthy cameramen found the '20s to be a fruitful period, as well.
The Decade's Cameras
The 1920s saw metal become an important medium in the construction of cameras. Nickel, chrome and aluminum were used to create parts, plating and castings. Kodak created many widely used photographic equipment, including the No.1 Pocket Junior and No.1 Autographic. The Houghton Speed Reflex was an early example of a single lens reflex camera, which allows the photographer to view an image as it will appear on film before the shot is taken.
Many photographers whom we consider legendary today produced quality work in the '20s. 1920 saw Ansel Adams enjoy his first published photograph in the "Sierra Club Bulletin." Pennsylvania-born Man Ray moved to Paris in the 1920s and there began the creation of "Rayographs," uniquely styled silhouette photographs called photograms. Fashion photographer Edward Steichen experienced great success during the era as the chief photographer for "Vogue" and "Vanity Fair." George Hoyningen-Huene also ranked among the decade's great shutterbugs.
1920s Photographic Style
Photography of the '20s was characterized by passionate experimentation with an array of artistic styles and concepts. Cubism and surrealism were among the prewar movements that encouraged 1920s photo artists to explore collage, montage, extreme closeups and bizarre angles in their work. Psychic theories espoused by Freud and others also influenced photographers to engage with the medium's capacity to communicate societally and intellectually. Photojournalism's importance to coverage of WWI also increased the journalistic and monetary presence of the art form in the 1920s.
"Le Violon d'Ingres," taken by Man Ray in 1924, ranks among the most famous photographs ever. F-holes on the model's back made her a metaphor for a violin; some consider the photo a presage of contemporary digital photography. Edward Steichen took a famous candid photo of comic luminary Charlie Chaplin in 1925. Clarence Sinclair Bull, the illustrious photographer of celebrities, began his famous portraiture collaboration with Greta Garbo in 1929.
- The Living Image Vintage Camera Museum
- Dictionary.com: "Photogram" Definition
- History of Art; History of Photography: "A World History of Photography"; Beaumont Newhall, et al.
- Neatorama; 13 Photographs That Changed the World; January 2007
- Paul Fraser Collectibles; Collectibles Newsletter; Unusual £70,000 Charlie Chaplin Portrait; November 2010
Jeffrey Norman has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has been published in such journals as the "Leland Quarterly" and on the blog, An Apple A Day. Norman earned a Bachelor of Arts in literature and creative writing from Stanford University.