“A lot of women were treated without any respect to their talent and skill. Due to this, some even had to perform photography under male names.”
Certainly, not every black-and-white or sepia image can be called a vintage photograph. A real vintage photograph is more than this, it's a photo that reflects a different era and shares with the viewer an insight into the past customs and traditions. Also, the purpose of a vintage photograph is not solely to entertain, but, as it was mentioned by the British photographer Cornelius Jabez Hughes (1819-1884) in American Journal of Photography from 1861 to "instruct, purify, and ennoble". Over 150 years ago, Jabez Hughes was then talking about contemporary photography, however, his analysis was so precise that it became an emblem of what we call today "a vintage photograph". The kind of photograph that touches you and, according to another 19th-century photographer and poet Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841- 1935) - makes your mind feel "its way into the very depth of the picture."
Among some of the most acknowledged photographers from the past that still impress every contemporary viewer is, of course, Alexander Gardner (1821- 1882) and his portrait of Lewis Paine before his execution (1865). Samuel Bourne (1834-1912) a photographer known for his prolific seven years' work in India. And, the irreplaceable landscape photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) famous for his images of the American West.
Unfortunately, two centuries ago, a photographer's club was entirely gentlemen's business. Not mentioning that all the so-called gentlemen were white and upper-class. A lot of women that showed interest in photography were photographers' wives and sadly, were treated without any respect to their talent and skill. Due to this, some even had to perform photography under male names.
Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879) was a British photographer who is considered one of the most significant portraitists of the 19th century. She is known for her pictorial soft-focus close-ups of Victorian cultural figures, like for example Charles Darwin, and also, for photographs that depict characters from mythology, and literature.
Another famous female photographer, from the 20th century, is a Hungarian-born Dutch photographer Ata Kandó (1913-2017). Married to a big shot Dutch street photographer Ed Van Der Elsken (1925-1990), Kandó however, always wanted to be seen as an independent photographer and not as "the wife of...".
Beginning her practice in the 1930s with children's photography, as you can see in the photobooks Kalypso & Nausikaä and Dream in the Forest, Kandó later worked as a fashion photographer, travelled to the Amazon to photograph landscapes and indigenous people and in 1956, together with another female photographer Violette Cornelius (1919-1998), travelled to the Austrian-Hungarian border during the Hungarian Revolution to assist and to photograph refugees. The trip resulted in a book Hungarian Refugees 1956.
For everyone interested in Vintage Photography, this Saturday, 21 September at 11:00 is the opening of Dialogue Vintage Photography Fair in Amsterdam. Come to check photobooks presented by ARTIBOOKS and purchase your favourite signed vintage copy. The photobook Dream in the Forest (Droom in het Woud) which is available at artibooks.com was signed by Kandó on her 100th birthday.