Elizabeth Johnstone as she might have appeared on Tinder

Above: Elizabeth Johnstone as she might have appeared on Tinder. Credit: Oscopic.


For all the transformations to photography wrought by social media, dating apps, and the Digital Revolution generally, it is interesting to note that the visual language of the photo-portrait remains essentially unchanged. A photo-portrait tends to document the visual language of non-verbal communication--many human facial expressions such as the smile transcend cultural difference and tend towards being universal. Such cues are basic to humanity through all time. For example, the photo-portrait of the "Beauty of Newhaven," Miss Elizabeth Johnstone (made by Hill and Adamson soon after the invention of photography in 1855), which charmed and enchanted Walter Benjamin (in 1931), would not look out of place on Tinder today (163 years from the date of creation) were it not for the tell-tale sepia tone.

(9 February 2018)