Photograph, James Melrose with aeroplane My Hildegarde
This was the first press photograph transmitted by radio from England to Australia. On 16 October 1934, South Australian aviator, C J Melrose, was pictured beside his plane at the Mildenhall aerodrome, England, preparing for the start of the Centenary Air Race. Within hours of capture, the image was transmitted from London to Melbourne and then sent via picturegram to Sydney’s press, the greatest distance a photograph had been transmitted over radio.
Wirephotos, as they are commonly called, are produced through electrical pulses which travel along telephone or telegraph wires, or radio waves. Like the transmission of Morse dots and dashes, the technology communicates the light and dark portions of an image, to be recorded on a negative or photographic paper at the receiver’s end.
Previously, photographs of an event appeared several days after the fact; wirephoto technology enabled visual communication with relative speed. Our consumption and expectation of the immediacy of news and communication continued to grow, an expectation that forms the basis of time-based social media activities such as Snapchat or Facebook and Instagram stories.