How the Camera Changed the World: Essay

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The camera took a great revolutionary part worldwide. The word 'camera' comes from the Latin 'camera' (vaulted room), which is a transliteration of the Greek word 'camara' (a vault, arched roof or ceiling, vaulted chamber; room). The word was also used as a contraction of 'camera obscura' (dark chamber; a black box with a lens that could project images of external objects), and thus it became the word for 'picture-taking device' ( The history of the camera can be traced much further back than the introduction of photography. Cameras evolved from the camera obscura and continued to change through many generations of photographic technology, including daguerreotypes, calotypes, and dry plates film, and to the modern day with digital cameras. A boxlike device for holding a film or plate sensitive to light, having an aperture controlled by a shutter that, when opened, admits light enabling an object to be focused, usually by means of a lens, on the film or plate, thereby producing a photographic image (

Cameras are in a way time capturing machine because in a way it captures a very brief 'moment' in the history of time. A moment we all 'cherish' a family portrait, that always makes us wonder what a moment it was. A moment when you were 'young' freezing time, something that cannot be done by the best of the best anti-aging serums. A moment to 'remember' the good time that you had like events, marriages, and functions. A moment that happened a 'few million years ago' like the birth of a star, or a nebula, or a cosmic event. A moment when 'light made its art form' like a dew shining in the morning, like the northern lights that dance the sky with its greenish charm.

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Cameras are the most powerful weapons in the world, and it has multiple faces, which means it influences human life radically, whether the impact might be positive or negative, and moreover, sometimes cameras are a double-edged sword that can destroy any side because we don't take a photograph, we make it.

The camera was invented in the 18th century, and at that time it was not affordable for middle-class people, which means only rich people can afford it. Eastman Kodak introduced the new Brownie dollar box camera in 1900; the release was supported by a major advertising campaign. The name 'Brownie' was chosen primarily because of the popularity of a children's book of cartoons of the same name, and partly because the camera was initially manufactured for Eastman by Frank Brownell of Rochester, New York. In the olden days, cameras were used to take black and white photographs, nowadays color photographs are taken.

I remember that my maternal grandfather had a Brownie camera and he uses to be proud of having it. Because, nowadays the camera is easily accessible and available to almost everyone, but in the nineteenth century having the camera is a prestigious one. He captured many pictures using that camera, and it still hangs and decorates the walls of my grandparents' home. He did many adventures using his camera, and he shared his experience with me when I was a teeny girl. I remember an incident that he told me, and he was around 20 years old when the incident happened. One of his friends fall in love with the other caste girl, and in the nineteenth century, India’s caste system was ruled over all the people. His friend married the girl secretly with the help of a few of his friends. My grandfather is one among them, and he attended the marriage with his favorite camera, and he captured the marriage ceremony. Later my grandpa's friend was threatened by his parents and family members to leave the girl, and he got scared and left his wife. Also, he said he never married the girl, and the girl got shocked and complained to the police. The complained move to the court and the judge asks the evidence or eyewitness for the marriage, but no one was ready to show up in the court. In that critical situation, the girl's lawyer contacts my grandpa and ask about the marriage photographs, and my grandpa handed over the photo to him. The lawyer submitted photographs as evidence, and judgment was favorable to the girl. There is no way so later days both families were compromised, and the couples have lived a wonderful life. The camera rebonds the love couples.

A moment that cannot be 'forgotten' like war, misery, and death that teaches us our past and tells us what we as humans should not be doing. For example, a single camera changed the direction of the Vietnam War, which means it went in the opposite direction. In the article 'Photography’s Huge Impact on Our View of the Vietnam War', the author mentions the power of the camera as follows: “The errors of the past need to be kept alive by historians, in order to prevent the same mistakes from happening again” ( The camera stopped the Vietnam War, the photo which was taken by a journalist changed people's minds and perceptions. The author mentions in the article, “A grisly photo of a Saigon execution 50 years ago shocked the world and helped end the war”, stating as below, Adams believed he had destroyed Loan’s life. At that instant on the sunny Thursday of Feb. 1, 1968, in what was then called Saigon, Associated Press photographer Eddie Adams’s camera shutter clicked once, and one of the most powerful pictures of the Vietnam War, or any war, was taken. In 1/500th of a second, Adams caught the moment the bullet crashed through the Viet Cong prisoner’s skull at about 600 mph, distorting his face, tousling his hair, and shoving his head off center. The picture ran on the front pages of many U.S. newspapers, and the footage ran on TV. But it was the photograph, and its frozen portrait of agony, that fueled the anti-war movement and helped end U.S. involvement. “It just kind of summed up the whole war”, former CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer said in the short film. “Two people died in that photograph”, Adams wrote in Time magazine years later. “The recipient of the bullet and General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera”. In later days, Adam apologized for his picture because the prisoner who was killed by the general is not naive or innocent, and he killed many peoples. A camera can play any role in the incident, and sometimes it shows the hero as a villain, and it can show the villain as a hero.

Cameras sometimes lie because we are not taking the photographs, we are creating the photographs. Sometimes the proof of judging the situation, incident, or people is like deciding the whole story of the book only seeing the cover picture. Seldom cameras are like the cover photo of the storybook, and the story is different from the cover photo. A moment that can be taken to the next generation, a message that cannot be conveyed with a word. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is an English language idiom. It refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single picture, this picture conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does (Wikipedia). Kevin Carter is a famous photographer who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1994, and it is an award for achievement in American journalism, literature, or music. His camera captures the photograph of a starving Sudanese child and a vulture in the background, and a single camera shot explains Sudan's political issues and social issues. In the article 'Photograph Analysis of Iconic 'Vulture Stalking a Child'', the author states how a single photograph summarized the whole country's pathetic state as follows, “I think the purpose of this photograph is to pull at people's heartstrings, to get them to comprehend and see with their own eyes the dire situation that Africans are facing. According to Sean Thomas Dougherty, the photo is also meant to get people to act. The fact that the photo incited so much controversy and anger means that the photo is doing what it should; and hopefully, all that anger will get people to do something about the continuing problem. The civil war is mainly what was causing the severe starvation in Sudan, which is portrayed in the photo since it was driving people away from their homes, which is where their food sources were” (Struck 1993). This single photo of one child does an excellent job of summarizing the immense distress the entire country was enduring. “The impact on professional photographers has been dramatic. Once upon a time, a photographer wouldn't dare waste a shot unless they were virtually certain it would work” (Tom de Castella). Cameras have changed the way how people remember the incidents that happen in various situations, which means it is like school attendance, and it is evidence for each and every moment. So people are started to take photographs of every single moment in their day-to-day life using their camera mobile phones. In a way, cameras have altered our photographic evidence.

In the past few years, cameras have been changing from the original type of a polaroid camera to the present form of a digital camera. The technology in the camera industry has been changing and allowing it to be easier for users to see their pictures faster and at a higher quality. If the camera can keep up with the high-speed changing world, then it will serve as a good cultural artifact in future years.

Cameras are like time machines, and it captures and freezes the moment of life, and whenever we see a photo, it will take us to the moment and day like a time machine. At the same time, I believe that the cameras have another side that can destroy peace of mind, manipulate the incident, and can make an impact on human lives negatively. The cameras will not be going to act in a hundred percent optimistic way. People can manipulate things and situations using cameras.

There is no doubt that cameras are taking a revolutionary part in the world, but it also has multiple faces, and the world confuse that which side to believe. Cameras are secret about the secret. The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh. Last, it is all about in humans hand that how we are handling and using technology.

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How the Camera Changed the World: Essay. (2023, November 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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