Way, way, way before millennials used smartphones to post selfies from spring break on Instagram; way, way before Clark Griswold frenetically posed in front of the Grand Canyon; and way before your Aunt Linda and Uncle Hank came over with a slideshow of their trip to Pioneer City, travel photography was taken seriously.
“Wanderlust” at Syracuse University’s Palitz Gallery in New York City, explores the personal side of travel photography from the late 1800s to today with 25 original photographs, from the school’s own collection (yes, Syracuse has more to offer than just snow and basketball), of natural landscapes, beaches, storm clouds and one giant dinosaur in Utah.
Back in the 1800s and into the 1900s, photographs were taken by professional photographers wearing really heavy black top coats and top hats with cameras the size of a Cadillac and exposure times that allowed one to take a nap and return in time to say “cheese.”
Developing the film was no easy task. Before you were able to simply upload photos to the cloud or take your film to your nearby parking lot Fotomat and return in an hour, images were drawn by hand (let that concept sink in — drawn…by…hand) by painters, draftsmen or printmakers. Thankfully, the invention of the daguerreotype by French artist and inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839 allowed for the first successful photo process. Visual representation of the world was changed forever and the dawn of travel photography was upon us, allowing professionals and welcoming amateur shutterbugs to express themselves without any limitations and share the first glimpses of the unseen world. Let the madness begin.
“Wanderlust” can be seen at the Palitz Gallery, 11 East 61st Street, through February 1, 2018. For more information go to nyc.syr.edu.