Masters of Photography – Mathew Brady

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Beginning today, we are adding a new feature to Beyond Megapixels. The feature is entitled “The Masters of Photography.”

The feature can be found each Tuesday in the “Asides” section of the home page. The articles will be organized by the genre of photography and each one will be limited to one or two paragraphs plus a few images captured by the featured photographer. Hopefully, each article will contain just enough information to make you want to learn more about these people that have had a major influence on photography and photographers.

A few months ago I began reading information about these photography icons with the intention of writing an article. That project was put on hold and I’m just now returning to it. The more I delved into the subject matter the more I started thinking, “Are you kidding me?” How does one go about determining who the great photographers are? Is it fame, popularity, marketability or is it those that are the first to capture photos of a particular subject, or introduce a new technique? Instead of attempting to develop the definitive list of the greatest photographers of all time I decided to list some of the greatest photographers and discuss what set them apart from other photographers and what they contributed. I also decided to group them in broad categories with no particular order in each of the categories.

Photojournalism – Photojournalism seemed to be a good place to start. In the broad genre of photojournalism there are many great and well known photographers. After all, you can’t be a pretty good photographer and excel in this field. I’m sure there will be some photojournalist that I’ll leave out, maybe one of your favorites, but I hope to at least include the top four or five beginning with Mathew Brady.

Mathew Brady (1822-1896)

Brady has been called the father of photojournalism. During the American Civil War he captured approximately 10,000 images of the war. The work of Brady and his assistants, who captured most of the battlefield images, brought the realities of war to the American public for the first time. Some of his more famous battlefield photographs were taken at Antietam and Gettysburg. In addition to his work during the Civil War for which he is probably best known, Brady also photographed portraits of every U.S. President except William Henry Harrison from John Quincy Adams to William McKinley as well as many other notable people of his time. Since Brady wasn’t born until 1822 and didn’t begin his photography career until 1845, not all the presidents he photographed were still in office at the time. Brady’s photographs of Lincoln were used as the basis for the likenesses on the five dollar bill and the penny. Brady died penniless in the charity ward of the Presbyterian Hospital in New York City to this day his photography provides invaluable historical images.

As an interesting side-note, beginning at the age of 19, Brady studied under skilled daguerreotypist Samuel F. B. Morse who contributed to the invention of the single line telegraph and co-invented the Morse Code.

General Ulysses S. Grant and Staff of Eight; Recognized: - Capt. William. Mck. Dunn, Colonel Ely S. Parker, General John A. Rawlins.
General Ulysses S. Grant and Staff of Eight by Mathew Brady on Flickr Commons

General George Meade
General George G. Meade who commanded the Union forces at Gettysburg by Mathew Brady on Flickr Commons

Ringgold Battery on drill
Ringgold Battery on drill by Mathew Brady on Flickr Commons

President Abraham Lincoln and Tad Lincoln
President Abraham Lincoln and Tad Lincoln by Mathew Brady on Flickr Commons

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  • Coro

    Awesome idea to present Masters of Photography. Thank you!