“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Perhaps this old adage is an understatement. Photography techniques have evolved tremendously over the last few decades, but the basis has changed little since the invention of the first camera prototype in the late 1830s. The effects and uses of American photography are difficult to dispute. Some of the most famous events in American history have been captured on film. These precious moments have become priceless works of art. 

Establishing Photography for the Future
Renowned speaker, educator, and photography enthusiast Charles Koutnik are among a growing movement. A small but quickly expanding group of amateur and professional photographers and their supporters are working together to establish photography as an official art form.

Koutnik has been an avid photographer since 1978 and has a knack for igniting the same passionate spark in others. During a recent public forum at Virginia’s Chesterfield County Museum, Koutnik discussed the relevance of photography for the current and future generations. His moving presentation adequately tied past, present, and future together in a unique and practical way. 

Art Funding and Challenges
Art, music, and vocational arts programs within the educational system are in jeopardy today. In fact, over the past several decades, these elective classes have endured multiple budget cuts and other spending cutbacks. This detrimental challenge is not limited to public school systems in America. Charter, private, and religious denominational schools are experiencing the same pressures. Priority is placed on excellence in a variety of academic areas, systematically squeezing out the arts. 

Relying on History for Perspective
Activists such as Charles Koutnik are relying on history to be their best witness. Countless events throughout American history were recorded solely through the camera lens. Without photography, many of our escapades would have been lost forever. Worse, without photographic evidence, many major events could have been unfairly distorted in the history books. Imagine dynamic periods such as the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam and Desert Storm homecomings, and presidential inaugurations without a film record. 

American photography tells a silent but vital story about a nation full of rich history. The American Dust Bowl era would be simply unimaginable without a visual image. Animals which are now extinct on the continent are available for viewing through film records. America continues to make history. And photography is one of the most important arts available for telling those stories.