While Dutch painters made an immense contribution the human civilization, we can not say the same about Dutch sculpture, music or poetry. Certainly - they do exist, but their tradition is purely local. Exception comes for photography. It must be a unique light of the North, reflections of the omnipresent water, fast changing positions of clouds that influenced painters through the centuries - while today, this fast changing luminosity which the Dutch call Hollandse Licht (Light of Holland) influences photographers. So it is not by accident that the first important artistic photographer in the Netherlands - Georg Hendrik Brietner was a painter. His views of Amsterdam from the end of the 19th c. as well as his nudes, astonish us with their artistic excellence.
Dutch photographers from the middle of the 20th c. as Maria Austria, Eva Besny§, Paul Citoren, Ed van der Elsken, Paul Huf, Ata Kando, Philip Mechanicus and today Diana Blok and Marlo Broekmans, Anton Corbijn, Rineke Dijkstra, Toto Frima, Inez van Lamsweerde, Wanda Michalak, Erwin Olaf - count among the world's best artists. But importance of Amsterdam as the City of Photography goes far beyond the presence of talented photographers.
Amsterdam has an important collection of classic photography at the Rijksmuseum and has two active smaller museums - Foam and Huis Marseille. And although the Rijksmuseum is constantly in renovation and its visitors will be for a many years limited to The Masterpieces of the old painting, Foam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, established 2001) and Huis Marseille (a small museum est. 2003 by a private foundation) and are active presenting constantly new shows, documenting photography in the Netherlands and beyond. A dozen of photographic galleries completes this picture.
Amsterdam is also an important city for the press photography. Sponsored by Canon the World Press Photo Foundation (established in 1955) organizes each year the world's most prestigious press photography contest. More than 4 thousands of photographers enter the contest with ca. 70 000 photographs. An annual exhibition which follows, is traveling to sveral other cities to be seen by two millions of visitors. The photographs prized in the World Press Photo stay with us for years after - they become a part of our visual heritage.