Photography Story

World Photo Day Goes Global

I recently posted another blog piece about World Photo Day here. This is a longer piece featuring images by friends at the Canberra Photography Society which was published in today’s Canberra Times newspaper (with fewer photos) here.

In 1822, Frenchmen Louis Daguerre and Charles Marie Bouton invented giant, translucent paintings illuminated to simulate movement and other effects – dioramas. Crowds would gather to watch their displays of landscapes and colours – a theatrical experience viewed in a highly specialised theatre.

Another Frenchman, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, produced the world’s first permanent photograph in 1825 to incorporate into his dioramas. After Niépce died in 1833, Daguerre continued experimenting with photography and dioramas. After combining chemicals and silver plates, he came up with the daguerreotype process and patented it in 1839 as a “gift to the world”. It was the first publicly available and commercially successful photographic process.

The French government purchased the patent for the daguerreotype process that creates highly detailed images on a sheet of copper plate with a thin coat of silver. Two centuries later, World Photography Day (WPD) is held on 19 August each year in celebration of the day when that purchase was made.

A professional photographer from Canberra, Korske Ara, founded WPD in 2009 to inspire people to take photos that mean something to them. I was one of those who specifically made images that first WPD. Nowadays, Ara runs Canberra-based Lucent Imaging – fine art printing and digital imaging studio.

WPD went global in 2010. From humble beginnings, with just 250 people signing up to participate that year, it now reaches a global audience of 500 million. Participants have the opportunity to share their photographs and raise awareness of the issues that are important to them and their communities.

In previous years, WPD has supported the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and other important causes. Other activities in Canberra have included photo walks, competitions and exhibitions.

19 August has just passed. Social media relating to the day reminds us that, whilst we might take our photographs for granted, there was once a time when photography didn’t exist. A time when precious moments couldn’t be captured, uploaded and shared.

Nowadays, WPD sees big brands, professionals and photography enthusiasts all joining the celebration. Competitions are being conducted by various groups or organisations, including Flickr here. So, in a sense, the day is not yet over. At the time of writing this 15,135 images had been uploaded to four categories on that competition site, and it had 7,402 members. Those numbers grow every minute – a huge response especially as the prize pool is quite modest. Submissions will continue to be accepted until 7 September. The photos entered do not have to have been taken on this year’s 19 August; they can be old or new; it doesn’t matter as long as they fit the category being entered.

Photography today is an important medium of storytelling, and photos add character to almost any piece of text, social media post, and even indoor spaces. Whilst WPD is a day for photographers to celebrate their artform, so too is every other day. The vast majority of us carry smartphones with us all the time, with excellent cameras in them. They provide ease of access and use, allowing us to capture images we previously would have seen but not been able to photograph.

Lockdown may have reduced the amount of new photography being created at this time, but enthusiasts will always find subjects for their cameras in their homes, gardens or whilst exercising outdoors. A message to a few members of the Canberra Photographic Society quickly delivered me a number of images taken on 19 August 2021 for potential use with this article. Some of them are shown below. How many did you take this WPD?

Smokey sunset behind Black Mountain 1 © Ben Hogan
Smokey sunset behind Black Mountain 2 © Ben Hogan
World Photography Day 2 © Luminita Quraisha
World Photography Day 3 © Luminita Quraisha
It was a Winters day © Susan Henderson
A bright spot – waiting for a vaccination © Susan Henderson
We Skyped family – Julian and Barney © Susan Henderson
The only creative thing I did © Ian Skinner