What is Modern Photography

It’s easy to confuse modern art and contemporary art, so it’s common to ask what modern photography refers to. Modern photography refers to a specific period during which the photography artists moved away from traditional styles. 

These classic styles of pictorialist photography were a more direct way of capturing photos. Traditional pictorial techniques stuck closely to nature in a documentary fashion, or they tried to mimic painterly styles of artwork. However, modern photographers used the camera as a tool to capture and create images. 

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Modern Photography Styles

Modern photography styles started in the 20th century during a significant change across the world, industry, society, and of course, art. By the 1920s, photographers had begun to use the medium for social, political commentary, as well as aesthetics. 

Photographers experimented with light, perspective, and new methods of developing photographs. Like painters, they also explored new subjects and abstraction. The works produced during the first part of the 20th century became known as ‘modernist photography.’ 

Modern Photography Styles

  • Surrealism
  • Dadaism
  • Abstract Photography
  • Constructivism
  • Bauhaus
  • Fashion photography
  • Pictorialism
  • Dusseldorf School
  • X-ray photography
  • Straight photography
  • Photo-Secessionist
  • Pop Art



What Is Photography?

Photography is defined as the process of capturing light with a camera and capturing an image. Nowadays, that camera could come in various forms, including cell phone cameras, digital cameras, and traditional analog cameras. 

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However, modern photographs were predominantly captured using analog cameras. Some digital photography was introduced near the end of the modernist period.

Learn more about photography.


Is Photography Under Modern Art?

Photography is still a relatively new form of art that is only around 150 years old. Photography is much more recent than other art forms such as painting or sculpture. Because of its relative newness, much of the body of photography art in existence was created during the modernist art period. 

Photography was a significant part of the modern and contemporary art movements that took place during the first half of the 20th century. The invention of photography also dramatically changed the purpose and course of other artistic styles.

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When Did Modern Photography Begin?

Photography was first created in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, but his first photograph was an experiment, not a work of art. The modern photography period has roughly the same timespan as other modern art periods. 

Modern photography started around the turn of the 20th century in the 1900s and lasted until the late 1960s. The influence of modern photography from this period remains to this day.

Contemporary photography, often confused with modern photography, refers to the work of living working artists, usually created from the 1960s onwards.

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Who Is Known as the Father of Modern Photography?

Alfred Stieglitz is often cited as the “father of modern photography.” Stieglitz was undoubtedly one of the pioneers of modern photography. In a time when many of the arts were stuck in their traditions, he dared to break out from the mold. Stieglitz took photographic art into a brand new era of expression. 

Stieglitz is also credited as the founder of both the Photo-Secessionist and Pictorialist photography movements. As a groundbreaking artist, he is recognized as the forerunner of the modern photography era.  


Famous Modern Photographers

Many of the best-known photographers created artwork during the modernist era. Some of these famous modern photographers include:

  • Alfred Stieglitz
  • Richard Avedon
  • Joan Miró
  • Man Ray
  • Pablo Piccaso
  • Imogen Cunningham
  • Diane Arbus
  • Dorothea Lang
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson
  • Andreas Gursky
  • Edward Weston
  • Rene Magritte
  • August Sander
  • David Hockney
  • Gordon Parks


Enjoying Modern Photography

Many collectors enjoy modern photography and like collecting and buying photography art. You can purchase original or one-of-a-kind modern and contemporary photography in an art gallery online or find limited editions recreations of famous modern photography.



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