At the close of the 19-th and at the turn of the 20-th centuries an interest in photography was increasing very quickly. Russian photographers took part in international exhibitions and were members of international societies. Their works received the most prestigious awards and won prizes. In Nizhny Novgorod there existed its own distinctly original school of photography, represented by A. Karelin and his follower M. Dmitriyev.
At the beginning of the 20-th century photography obtained a qualitatively new meaning: newsreel photography was developing at that time. It depicted history-making landmarks – such as world war the first and the revolution of 1917.
Photographers–innovators were gradually increasing possibilities of photography as a kind of art. A photo became not only artistic means of carrying a message of the cameraman, but it was also a striking material illustration of the epoch. In 1917 in different cities of the country, including Nizhny Novgorod, were taken photos of the developments of the February and the October revolutions. Those pictures looked very much like reportages and news reports and started a photographic chronicle of the Soviet state.
The revolutionary events of 1917 influenced the photography very much. Photography, being not isolated from other kinds of art, underwent the same changes as painting, poetry and literature. The methods of classical painting and graphic arts, on which the photography of the 19-th and of the beginning of the 20-th centuries was based, were replaced by new devices. At that time the art of photography enriched itself stylistically, ideologically, figuratively and sometimes it changed completely.
In 1917 documentary, newsreel photography was put in the forefront. It reflected new issues of social life and became the part of official propaganda. At that time an expression appeared: “History is written by a camera”.
Photography was considered visual art that is new for the proletariat and that is capable to express swiftness of the modern life.
By the middle of the twenties the life of photography was in full swing: amateur photography study groups and professional photographers’ associations were created, factories manufacturing photographic plates and paper were opened, first Soviet photo-magazines appeared.
In spite of the fact that photography was very popular, cameras at that time were far from being diverse, and there was almost no difference between them, with the exception of the size of the camera and picture size.
Because of enormous political and economical changes in the country and constant shortage of photo materials and their high prices many private photographic studios were closed. In 1918 in Nizhny Novgorod only few of them still worked: M. Dmitriyev`s, M. Khripkov`s, N.Kuzayev`s , I. Ivanov`s photo studios, A. Gurevich`s and G. Vulman`s “Velographia”, A. Vainstein`s electrostatic photography “Ideal”, A. Samarin`s “Study Portrait”.
In August in 1919 many photo houses, including Dmitriyev`s studio, were nationalized in the Nizhny Novgorod region. By 1929 all the private photo-studios were transformed into state institutions.
In M. Dmitriyev`s photo studio Children`s Labor Commission was placed then. Photographic cards with the stamp “CLC” with the pictures of the sights of Nizhny Novgorod were issued by the guidance of world-known M. Dmitriyev and had a great success among the citizens of Nizhny Novgorod.
The Soviet reportage photography went along with the old academic school. Reportage pictures in newspapers showed the events taking place in the country to great quantity of readers. The photos introduced front-rank workers to people and let them know about their achievements. The photographs showed newly built buildings, inventions, great social events. We can see the pictures of first tanks assembled at Soviet plants, the photos of construction sites next to the ones showing the destruction of old architectural monuments, numerous photographs of meetings and festival demonstrations. Some photos taken long time ago for news reports with the lapse of time became profoundly exciting picturesque pictures of the distant past, keeping for us the true image of the epoch.
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