Week 3. History of Photography

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Meeting Details

Tuesday 16 October

Morning Meeting 10-12 Portland 2.3

Afternoon Meeting 1:30-4pm Portland 1.24


More photographs exist in photomechanical form than in any other. This session is about learning how to recognize these prints, and where to look up details when you don't know so much about them. The morning seminar will be a short lecture and discussion of the two readings. In the afternoon, you will put your knowledge to work in identifying processes. If you own a loupe, please bring it with you. At the end of this session you will be familiar with handling and viewing photographic material under magnification, you will be comfortable with the terminology of photomechanical printing, and you will have practised some more print identification. In addition, you will have worked with your colleagues to identify several unknown items using the standard reference books.

Required Reading and Looking

Chapter as single large (3Mb) pdf Anne Hammond, 'Aesthetic Aspects of the Photomechanical Print' in Mike Weaver ed., British Photography in the Nineteenth Century: the fine art tradition (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 163-179.

Stephen Bann, "The Inventions of Photography" in Parallel Lines: Printmakers, Painters and Photographers in Nineteenth-Century France (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001) 47-125.


Notes on Photographs is a website devoted to the history and conservation of the photographic print.

Further Reading

Benson, Richard. The Printed Picture (New York: MOMA, 2008).

Eder,Josef. Edward Epstean transl., History of Photography (New York: Dover, reprint of the 4th edition, 1972), Chapters 74-95, pp. 536-675 (only in this edition). In these chapters he covers pretty much the whole range of photographic processes. Original German editions are available in Portland 1.24.

Lavédrine, Bertrand. Photographs of the Past: Process and Preservation Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2009.

Reilly, James. Care and Identification of 19th-Century Photographic Prints (Rochester, NY: Kodak Publications, 1986) Chapters 1&4. And here you can see his work on the Graphics Atlas.

Ware, Mike. Cyanotype: The History, Science and Art of Photographic Printing in Prussian blue, (London: Science Museum and NMPFT, 1999).

For artists using various alternative processes, see the exhibition catalogues:

Katy Barron and Anna Douglas eds., Alchemy: Twelve contemporary artists exploring the essence of photography, (London: Purdy Hicks, 2006)

Andreas Krase and Agnes Matthias eds., Wahr-Zeichen: Fotografie und Wissenschaft, (Dresden: Technische Sammlung Dresden, 2006)

Feedback )

The feedback is due by the Monday after the session is offered.

This material should be provided as a short response to the following three questions:

1. In one sentence for each, please note two or three main ideas from this session.


2. What concept(s) need more reinforcement?


3. What two or three aspects of this session did the group like/dislike and why?


Back to History of Photography Contents

Back to the MA Photographic History Main Page