World Photography Day Is August 19, 2021: A Brief History and This Year’s Events

What will you be doing for World Photography Day? There’s good reason to get on board. Some exciting happenings are going on, including some free live presentations from top-notch photographers.

On August 19, 1839, the French government purchased a patent from Louis Daguerre, who had developed his successful photographic process from the seeds sewn by Joseph Nicephore Niepce, who had died six years earlier. France declared it a gift to the world, for anyone to use without cost. Well, almost everyone. The French were still smarting from the Napoleonic Wars, and there had been a long rivalry with Britain reaching back hundreds of years, and so, they excluded Britain from the gift. British photographers had to pay a license fee to use the technique. Fortunately for the British, around the same time, William Henry Fox Talbot had independently developed his own system, and so, the two processes evolved, at first, in parallel.

Fortunately, the world is a much more peace-loving place than it was in the 1800s. Overall, despite some hiccups, we get on together much better than we did 182 years ago. Now, on August 19 every year, to celebrate that idea of international camaraderie on the anniversary of France’s generous sharing of the Daguerreotype, it’s World Photography Day.

Like all art and science, photography is great for bringing together different people from different nations and helping us to realize how similar we all are. I’ve visited, lived, and photographed in different countries and have made friends around the world. Almost everyone I meet just wants to get on with life and enjoy it, living in peace and happiness. Photography on the internet and sites like Fstoppers and others are a great way of helping us achieve that by removing the imaginary barriers between the ordinary people of our planet. World Photography Day highlights that and is a superb means for us to celebrate our common enjoyment of an inclusive activity that means so much to so many of us.

Things You Can Do

Do look for and like others’ photos on various social media platforms, and please take time to post encouraging comments. A few seconds of kindness can make a huge difference to others. That is what the spirit of World Photography Day is about.

To find photos relating to the event and to join in, use the hashtags #PhotographyDay and #WorldPhotographyDay. If you do use hashtags, please may I encourage you to capitalize separate words as I did. It means that screen-readers, used by visually impaired people, can differentiate between the words.

But, most of all, go and take some photographs. Put a few hours aside and try something different. Maybe start a new project or visit a venue you’ve been planning to get to. Better still, try collaborating with other photographers on a common theme. I’ve taken part in a couple of year-long themed collaborations with a group of photographers from around the world. It encouraged me to get out with my camera and improve my photography skills.

Live Photography Events

For the last few years, Olympus UK has been actively celebrating World Photography Day. This year, they have gone the extra mile with a series of live international events for photographers delivered by their staff and ambassadors from around the world. Although Olympus cameras and lenses will feature, you don’t have to be an Olympus user to attend. They have some top-notch photographers who will be sharing stories, techniques, and tips. The events are free. Here are the times for your diary:

Coffee with the Cla(i)res

The hosts of the regular Saturday Morning slot, Coffee with the Cla(i)res, features two Olympus UK team members, Clare Harvey-May and Claire Voyle. Their event started during the first lockdown in Britain, where they would share live projects from their homes. It went viral, reaching thousands of photographers from around the world. They will be broadcasting on location and delving into the world of macro.

When: 11am BST/12pm CET/6am ET  Where: bit.ly/3jKAvBV

Exploring Menus and Dials: A Q&A with David Smith

David Smith is an Olympus technical expert, especially known in the UK for the one-to-one sessions he delivers to Olympus users and the support he gives in various Facebook groups too. He’ll be talking about the latest Olympus kit and its features, answering questions you put to him.

When: 1pm BST/2pm CET/8am ET    Where: bit.ly/3CmMbmx

Exploring Bird Photography With Andreas Geh 

Andreas Geh is a German photographer and Olympus ambassador who shoots fabulous bird life images. He’ll be discussing bird photography and sharing his tips and tricks, as well as answering your questions.

When: 3pm BST/4pm CET/10am ET      Where: bit.ly/3ytgN3H

The Art of Nature With André Boss    

Swiss photographer André Boss has a live session concentrating on wildlife. He is an Olympus visionary too and will be talking about his latest projects and answering questions.

When: 5pm BST/6pm CET/12pm ET    Where:   bit.ly/3lBKX0V

Creatividad en Fotografía de Paisaje - En Español - Sergio Marcos
(Creativity in Landscape Photography - in Spanish)

Then, it’s off to Spain with landscape photographer, Sergio Marcos. He will be analyzing composition techniques. You can see some of Sergio’s work here.

When: 7pm BST/8pm CET/2pm ET    bit.ly/3AaQZK3

 Wildlife Photography: From Safari to Your Backyard - Brooke Bartleson   

After Spain, the baton is handed over to the USA and Brooke Bartleson in Salt Lake City. Brooke is another superb wildlife photographer. She’ll be talking about her recent expedition to Botswana and sharing some of her skills.

When: 9pm BST/10pm CET/4pm ET   Where: bit.ly/3A5pDoC

Olympus Innovations for the Outdoor Photographer - Peter Baumgarten

Finally, we all head northwards where Peter Baumgarten will be concentrating on the unique features of Olympus cameras, such as Live Composite Mode, Live ND, Pro Capture, and so forth that enable him to get some stunning shots in the Canadian Wilderness.

 When: 11pm BST/12am CET/6pm ET  Where:  bit.ly/3CjqL9T

Czech Republic Online Event

There will also be a live stream discussion with Rostislav Stach and Petr Bambousekin Czech language.

When: 5pm BST/6pm CET/12pm EST Where: https://bit.ly/3isEvaJ

Full details of the event plus more information about the presenters can be found on the Olympus website.

What Will You Be Doing?

It doesn't matter if you are a seasoned professional, an experienced amateur, a selfie-snapper, or a complete beginner. There's every reason to join in on the day, to share what you are doing, and appreciate what other photographers are delving into.

What will you do? I’ll be starting my day before sunrise, heading off on my bicycle to capture a seascape image I’ve been planning — I hope the weather is good — and then watching some of those Olympus videos.

I look forward to hearing about your plans and seeing the results. Please post them in the comments below. Plus, please share details of any other events that you know are happening on August 19.

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8 Comments

Jan Holler's picture

Ivor, we have no such day here in Switzerland (and I am not on social media).

Ivor Rackham's picture

It's supposed to be a worldwide event, and it's been running for a few years. I guess it takes time for it to catch on everywhere. It's a pity that so many things are just run on, especially, Facebook, as it does exclude people who don't want to use that, which is totally understandable. Happy to see WPD photos posted here in the comments though.

Ivor Rackham's picture

It was the only camera company I could find that was running any events for World Photography Day. I even tried to contact the WPD website for information about what was going on, and they declined to reply. So, if Olympus are the only ones making the effort, then they are the only ones that get mentioned.

Ivor Rackham's picture

No reason to, really, Dana. Most of the articles on Fstoppers, and most photography sites, concentrate on one particular brand per article. You could make the same argument about any review of a camera or lens.

This isn't selling anything, just promoting free events that Olympus are providing. I also asked folk to "...please share details of any other events that you know are happening on August 19", which I am also doing.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Flickr have announced a competition for World Photography Day: https://www.flickr.com/groups/worldphotographyday2021/?utm_campaign=2021...

They also have a World Photography Day group: https://www.flickr.com/groups/worldphotographyday2021/?utm_campaign=2021...