Photography is the art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It is employed in many fields of science, manufacturing (e.g., photolithography), and business, as well as its more direct uses for art, film and video production, recreational purposes, hobby, and mass communication.
In the arts, photography got its start with the daguerreotype in 1839 but truly came of age in 1851 with the introduction of the negative/positive process, allowing for unlimited reproductions. Today black and white photography continue to be popular as an art form, while color photography is nearly ubiquitous in its applications.
Early artists who employed photography as an artistic tool include Gustave Le Gray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, and Man Ray. More contemporary artists who make use of photography include Richard Avedon, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and Diane Arbus. Many photographers have become known for their iconic portraits, including Annie Leibovitz and Yousuf Karsh.
As an art form, photography is considered by some to require its own set of skills and techniques distinct from other visual arts. In particular, composition, lighting, and timing must be taken into account when creating a photograph. These factors, along with the type of camera and film used, can greatly affect the final result.
With the advent of digital photography, the process of creating a photograph has become much more accessible to a wider range of people, the skills required are still the same.
Some even argue that the ease with which digital photographs can be produced and disseminated has devalued photography as an art form.
Regardless of how you feel about the argument between traditional film and digital photography, no one can deny that photography has provided an invaluable record of humanity and the world we live in, from early images of Native Americans and the first photographs of the American West to war photography and photojournalism to contemporary art.