As early as 1860 Sir John Herschel, one of the pioneers in photography and the inventor of its name, speculated on the possibility at some future time of being able to take photographs at one tenth of a second, “as it were, by snapshot,” but this was a figure of speech depending for its effect upon the reader’s familiarity with hunters’ lingo. (p. 404)
We do not yet realize, I think, how fundamentally snapshots altered the way people saw one another and the world around them by reshaping our conceptions of what is real and there of what is important. We tend to see only what the pictorial conventions of our time are calculated to show us. From them we learn what is worth looking for and looking at. The extraordinary thing about snapshots is that they teach us to see things not even their makers had noticed or been interested in. (p 405)
Before photography, reality was history, and history was very largely something untrustworthily reported that happened long ago. Thanks, or no thanks, to the snapshot, we live in a historical reality from the moment we are old enough to look at a Polaroid picture taken two minutes ago.
John A. Kouwenhoven, “The Snapshot”, 1974, in Aperture Anthology: the Minor White Years, (p. 406)
That last part reminds me of this, esp. the bit that goes:
The logic of the camera is that reality is real only to the extent that it is photographable. It pulls individuals out of the moment and makes them see it (and themselves) as an object for the future as well as always already of the past.