Why does photographic history matter? by Beatriz Pichel

Photographic Histories

Recently, I was asked to do a presentation on why photographic history matters. Here was my response:

In this presentation, I will argue that photographic history matters as never before. Its potential as a method of research turn it into a critical and strategic discipline in academia. More important, photographic history matters because it makes a positive impact on areas such as teaching, digital humanities, public engagement and policymaking.

Photographic history examines photographs, both in their physical and digital presentation, as well as a broad array of material, from cameras to developing processes, artificial lighting, printing and enlargement techniques, journals, treatises, magazines, etc. In some cases the sources coincide with the object of study. For instance, in works dedicated to photographers or to particular genres. In other cases, photographic materials are the sources but not the object of study. Photographs have been used to examine, for instance, the standardisation…

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