Photography did, in fact, affect paintings, their significance and their relevance. In the 19th Century, photography took the spotlight when it came to realistic art pieces.

And its presence alongside traditional art forms has often led people to ask, “Is photography art?”

This definitely spooked the media, with many of them denying photography as an art in order to save a spot for painters.

But many argued that painters would never be unable to compete with the quality and speed of photography. This led painters to either give up their crafts or find ways to improve their art.

In turn, this made some of their paintings lean more toward the abstract side, as a means to prove that what could be achieved in painting, could not be achieved in photography.

Photographers vs. painters

In a nutshell, there was a “war” between photographers and painters at the time. This war waged on for some time. Critics emphasized how dangerous photography was toward art and how it could possibly corrupt art.

Painters started to realize that they could win this war against the realism of the camera. This gave birth to many “isms” that became categories of 20th-century art.

The effect was significant, but, nevertheless, it was undeniable that the limits of art demanded to be pushed. The world began to acknowledge photography as an art, although there will always be some skepticism around the matter.

This complicated love-hate relationship showed how much these two mediums affected each other and is another piece of concrete evidence on how photography changed art.

Did photography kill paintings?

Upon seeing the first daguerreotype, the French painter Paul Delaroche (1797-1856) declared: “From today, painting is dead.”

Luckily, painting did not die. Both photography and painting gave each other a solid blow and developed some problems and some improvements along the way.

With the rise of photography, access toward portraits became a possibility. At the time, portraits were expensive and mostly exclusively available to the rich. Photography, in a sense, made art “cheaper” and more accessible to all the layers of society.

Of course, the upper class did not welcome this act of cheapening art. This change gave birth to the term “kitsch,” the act of massively reproducing something artistic and unique at a minimal cost. Some upper-class people even viewed photography as a refuge for painters with little to no talent.

In its long, lengthy rise, photography finally made its way to acceptance as an art medium. No longer did the masses ask if photography was an art. It grew and shook the world with how much change can be done to the art industry.

Why is photography important for history?

Memory is a marvelous thing. People remember more if the memory was emotional or had a certain feeling attached to it. Sadly, memory fades rather easily. Do you remember August 7, 1945?

People are also unable to imagine what it looked like to live and fight in trenches. These are a few examples of how important photography is to history. Photography keeps history alive by teaching and inspiring others, allowing them to know and somehow relate to what the characters in the frame are going through.

Memories and history can easily be distorted without any concrete evidence to substantiate them. We can only imagine how twisted and vague history would be without proper documentary photography.