In keeping with our summer travel theme, I began to investigate some of the ways in which photographers were first able to travel with their cameras. To give a brief background, the invention of photography in 1839 coincided with the Romantic period and the Transcendentalist movement, both of which encouraged the pursuit of the picturesque landscape. Concurrently, the Industrial Revolution produced a growing middle class in America that typically worked 40-45 hours during the week and had leisure time in the evenings and during the weekends. As such, it was fashionable to spend free time travelling from the populated cities out to undeveloped land. And what better way to commute but by bicycle!
The cycling craze was short-lived, as the automobile quickly replaced the two-wheeled contraption as the ideal form of transportation. But the practice of photographing leisure experiences in nature clearly continues today, though in much greater proportions thanks to the ease of the cell phone cam.
Christin Boggs is an Intern at the Smithsonian Photography Initiative.
Leave a Comment