Photographers in Cape Town Wedding Photographer




A history of South African photography from Sir John to the Cape Town Wedding Photographer

Many people are unaware that South African photography has developed almost hand in hand with photography in the rest of the world. Far from being a backwater for modern photographic achievement in the early days of photography, South Africans were pioneering the art-form that would change the face of information documentation forever. It is remarkable to think that in the space of 150 years South African photography went from the domain of a few knowledgeable chemists to that of every enthusiast with a camera calling themselves' Cape Town wedding photographers.

They say the course of true love never does run smooth and this is as true for the history of South African photography as it is for a soon to be bride looking for a Cape Town wedding photographer in the middle of March. The story of South African photography dates back as far as the middle of the nineteenth century. Without being aware of it an Englishman named Sir John Herschel was starting this countries love affair with photography, an affair that would continue well into the twenty first century. South African photographers played a vital role in the anti-apartheid movement of the seventies and eighties documenting and broadcasting the violence that was tearing the country apart to the rest of the world. The impact that a Cape Town wedding photographer had on this 150 year old love affair is, however, no less important.

The story starts in a somewhat more peaceful time when a mild mannered scientist named John Herschel was living in the Cape Town suburb of Claremont. He stayed there for four years and was experimenting with ways of capturing the light in a camera obscura onto chemically treated paper in order to create a photographic print. Unfortunately for Mr. Hershel news travelled slowly in those days and when he returned to England to reveal his findings to the Royal Society he was no doubt greeted with a few snickers as, unknown to him, two others had already discovered similar processes and revealed them in a similar manner to men of learning. However Hershel is still widely acknowledged as been the person to coin the phrase negative and positive, when referring to photographic prints, as well as been the first to use the English term photography.

South African photography was still a long way from how we know it today, with busy Cape Town wedding photographers posing their puffy portraits on wine farms or arranging their meringue like muses on the Camps Bay beach front. In fact it wasn't until 1945 that the first photograph was taken in Cape Town. Over the next fifty years, however, the art of photography grew at an exponential rate. Portraiture photography was obviously at first the most popular, before the proliferation of this invention the only people that could afford portraits were the super wealthy, now almost everyone could have their own. It was during this time that people noticed the economic potential that South African photography held and the seeds were planted for the birth of the many Cape Town wedding photographers< we see today. It grew fastest in the smaller towns such as Port Elizabeth and East London. Most of the professionals would travel between towns without any fixed studio space, snapping portraits for anyone who could afford them, developing and then moving on.

On the 30 October 1890 the Cape Town Photographic society was formed and it is today the oldest photographic society in the country. Its members include representatives from all types of South African photography, from Cape Town wedding photographers to photo journalists. The Cape Town photographic society has been at the forefront of South African photography and photographic development for over one hundred and twenty years. So next time a Cape Town wedding photographer tells you they know the business better than anyone remember Mr. Hershel in his flat in Claremont, the man who was, unknowingly, the first in a long line of photographic enthusiasts that South African photography was going to have.