The camera has offered us amazing possibilities, which we are only just beginning to exploit. The visual image has been expanded and even the modern lens is no longer tied to the narrow limits of our eye; no manual means of representation (pencil, brush, etc.,) is capable of arresting fragments of the world seen like this; it is equally impossible for manual means of creation to fix the quintessence of a movement, nor should we regard the ability of the lens to distort – the view from below, from above, the oblique view – as in any sense merely negative, for it provides an impartial approach, such as our eyes, tied as they are to the laws of association, do not give; and from any other point of view: the delicacy of the grey effects produces a sublimated value, the differentiation of which can transcend its own sphere of influence and even benefit colour composition. But when we have enumerated these uses we are still far from having exhausted the possibilities in this field. We are only beginning to exploit them; for although photography is already over a hundred years old it is only in recent years that the course of development has allowed us to see beyond the specific instance and recognize the creative consequences.
When the true qualities of photography are recognized, the process of representation by mechanical means will be brought to a level of perfection never before reached. Modern illustrated magazines are still lagging behind, considering their enormous potential ! And to think what they could and must achieve in the field of education and culture.
The photogram, or camera-less record of forms produced by light, which embodies the unique nature of the photographic process, is the real key to photography. It allows us to capture the patterned interplay of light on a sheet of sensitised paper without recourse to any apparatus. The photogram opens up perspectives of a hitherto wholly unknown morphosis governed by optical laws peculiar to itself. It is the most completely dematerialised medium which the new vision commands.
It is quite unimportant whether photography produces "art" or not. Its own basic laws, not the opinions of art critics, will provide the only valid measure of its future worth. It is sufficiently unprecedented that such a "mechanical" thing as photography, and one regarded so contemptuously in an artistic and creative sense, should have acquired the power it has, and become one of the primary objective visual forms, in barely a century of evolution. 'The true significance of the film will only appear in a much later, less confused and groping age than ours. The prerequisite for this revelation is, of course, the realisation that a knowledge of photography is just as important as that of the alphabet. The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of the use of camera and pen alike.'
No intention exists of making photography into an art in the old sense. We definitely have to go back to the deeper responsibility of the photographer who accomplishes a work with the photographic means which could not be accomplished in the same way with other means. Therefore the existence of photography today exists less in serving individual artistic expression but rather much more in its pedagogical function.
Photography when used as a representational art is not a mere copy of nature. This is proved by the rarity of the “good” photograph. Only now and then does one find really “good” photographs among the millions which appear in illustrated papers and books. What is remarkable in this end at the same time serves as a proof is that (after a fairly long visual culture) we always infallibly and with sure instinct discover the “good” photos, quite apart from the novelty or unfamiliarity of the thematic content.