As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words – so in this day of digital photography and camera phones, many of us have the equivalent of millions of words right at our fingertips. 

While the technology behind high-quality split-second photos has jumped by leaps and bounds in recent decades, photography itself has a much longer history. 

The first photograph was taken nearly 200 years ago by a Frenchman capturing an image of nature. The first commercial photo process, the daguerrotype, flashed into view in 1839 – the same year that the first “selfie” was taken. The first photograph of the moon was taken in 1840, more than 100 years before the first close-up of Earth’s satellite taken from orbit, while the first aerial image was snapped more than 150 years before drones took to the air. While color photographs were relatively rare prior to the 1970s, the first color photo – of a tartan ribbon – dates back a century and a half.

The first digital camera, invented in 1975 by an Eastman Kodak employee, weighed in at a whopping eight pounds. Today most smartphones are equipped with high-resolution cameras that snap photos instantaneously, slip easily into a pocket and can easily store thousands of images, which are quickly sortable into albums and available for viewing – or sharing with loved ones via text, email or social media – with the click of a button. It’s no wonder that 85% of images are taken with smartphones, and 86% of Americans take camera quality into account when deciding which phone to buy. We’re a long way from snapping rolls and rolls of film on vacation and then waiting excitedly for the drugstore to develop them to discover how many actually turned out!

Still, there is something comforting and nostalgic about actually holding a physical photo album – whether it is an old leather bound book filled with black-and-white family pictures from decades gone by or a modern, glossy wedding montage – and carefully flipping through its pages. In some cases, photographs don’t even make it into an album, as anyone who has sifted through shoeboxes full of loose images (or carousels of slides!) can attest.

While the vast majority of photographs in existence are cherished and meaningful mainly to a core group of family and friends, some images – such as the flag being raised at Iwo Jima during WWII, the worried mother with her children at a migrant camp during the Great Depression, and the Earth as photographed from the Moon – have become so iconic and well-known that they are instantly recognizable and a key piece of our history.

Photographs can also spark dreams by offering friends, family or Instagram followers a tantalizing glimpse into a slice of life, whether it is a carefully composed image of a mouthwatering meal at a high-end restaurant, a vacation album capturing the joys of ocean, sun and sand, or action shots from a sporting event or concert. 

Lexington Square Senior Living Communities in Elmhurst and Lombard, recently had a fabulous photo shoot, focusing on our ‘influencers’…Our wonderful residents and our amazing, dedicated staff. Our objective is to show off Lexington’s carefree dynamic, unique, engaging and vibrant communities. We will be updating the photo galleries on our websites to offer a better picture (no pun intended) of the lifestyle available to residents, including the beautiful campuses and variety of amenities. 

But there’s no need to be a professional photographer to bump up the quality of your images, whether you are capturing snapshots of grandchildren at play, a Grand Canyon sunset or – why not? – the delicious dinner you are about to enjoy. You might try shooting both vertical and horizontal images to offer an unexpected angle, using the Rule of Thirds to locate your subject within the frame, and giving your subject space to “move” within the frame. If you want to try your hand at using some higher-end cameras or photo technology without breaking the bank, see if your library has equipment available for checkout like the Elmhurst Public Library does. Some libraries, like Lombard’s Helen Plum Library, also offer patrons the opportunity to scan old photos and negatives into digital images – preserving them for generations to come. 

Photography has come a long way in the past 200 years, but its ability to inspire, awe and connect remains the same – so don’t miss an opportunity to capture and share, or just enjoy!

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