MIT 2000 Lecutre 4 Photography
Louis Daguerreotype 1839. Created a unique image, could not duplicate it.
Changes in 1850s with rise of new form: Wet Plate Collodion Process. Can make
multiple prints from single glass negative.
Changed again in 1870s to rise of: Dry Plate Process by George Dawson. Not more
portable darkrooms. But you did not need the same chemicals
Mathew Brady worked from 1840s1870s. He has very weak eye site so his assistants
had to run many of his operations
They did a lot of portraiture of celebrities and generals
They found it was seem as an embodiment of national history and citizenship to take
these portraits. Were done with the strong emphasis of the people, backgrounds were
simple, lighting would emphasis the good qualities of the peoples faces.
Prior to this you had to hire an artist and pay a lot of money to have a painting portrait of
yourself. So this gave middle class and working classes the ability to afford having a
portrait of them. Would cost about 50cents at the time, (equivalent of half a days labor)
Individual as coherent self
A way of capturing a symbol of ones inner self, and character. This was seen as what
was captured in a portrait at the time.
It was also a way of a keepsake of the deceased because people died so much more often
The Living Dead
Photo keepsake of the deceased
Because many children would die before they could have a photograph taken of them,
they would take a picture of them right after they died.
Example of the picture of a baby that died. Made it look like the baby was sleeping,
would portray a peaceful state
You would never do this now at a funeral home, where someone would take a picture of
the deceased to keep.
Seeing, Believing: War Documentary
At this time it was a major part to photograph parts of the civil war, to keep as historical
Burden of Truth
Civil war 186165 – Mathew Brady, A. Gardner/T.O’Sullivan
Ken Burns Documentary “The Civil War” (made 15 years ago) Social Documentary
Jacob Riis –“How the Other Half Lives”, 1890 –documented photographically, the
slums in New York, homeless people, windowless rooms, garbagestrewn backyards,
sweat shops labour. Wanted to show this to the privileged side of New York to show
them what the other side of New York was living in. It was a way of social reform.
Affected social change
Cultural ‘Other’ the photographs were often designed to put them in a different box
than other people and to show the differences between high society and the poor.
The Rise of the Kodak Camera, 1888
Created by George Eastman
Handheld, point and shoot box camera