History of Photography

  • f64

    Group f64, although short-lived, had an incredible impact on the art of photography in the United States. These West Coast photographers and their shared principals formed a truly American approach to photography for both photographers and students of the medium in the 20th Century. The ideals of the group were to use a large-format camera to produce contact prints, the purest representation of a negative with no enlargement. They stressed no cropping or other hand manipulations, and the use of a very small aperture, which produced images with an extremely large depth of field. Also stressed was that the photographer who took the photograph was the one who printed it.  Therefore guaranteeing the interpretation was true to the negative. Unlike what was common among many of the European photographers who felt photographs were made by the photographer and the prints were made by darkroom technicians.

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    f64
  • Labor

    In celebration of our Labor Day holiday this weekend we devote today’s History of Photography newsletter to three photographers who focused their cameras on labor. They are certainly not the only three but Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine, and Sebastião Salgado devoted their photographic efforts to not just photograph but to completely give their energies to help bring about both awareness and change for the lives of workers. Their photographs and publications helped significantly to bring about changes in everything from child labor, wages, health and safety regulations, and most importantly, legislation.

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    Labor
  • William Henry Fox Talbot- The Pencil of Nature

    Today I will continue with the story of the “invention” of a photographic process. If you were to read these blogs in chronological order, this one would be number three. The Science and Art episode would be first, followed by Mirror with a Memory – The Daguerreotype.  Although I haven’t been writing these in any order, I think they may make more sense if read that way.

    The English scientist, mathematician, botanist, linguist, and classical scholar, William Henry Fox Talbot was astonished at the news of Daguerre’s invention. Hearing the first reports of the Frenchman’s invention Talbot felt he had invented a technique that seemed equivalent. He rushed to publish and claim priority for his invention.

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    William Henry Fox Talbot- The Pencil of Nature
  • Georgia O'Keeffe and the Interpretive Landscape

    Over the years Janet and I have taught numerous photography workshops.  One that stands out to us was entitled, The Educated Photographer.  

    When this workshop was conceived Janet and I sat down and made a list of topics we thought all photographers should be familiar with. From that list we started each day with a lecture on the History of Photography, then went on to cover, printing and print quality, building a portfolio, matting, mounting and framing, navigating the gallery and museum worlds, and more. At first, not knowing how this would be received, we were happily surprised that there was great interest. However, after teaching this workshop a few years we realized there was also a need to spend more time with students on their image-making. 

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    Georgia O’Keeffe and the Interpretive Landscape
  • Mirror with a Memory

    Next Wednesday, August 19th, has been declared as World Photography Day! It celebrates the invention of the Daguerreotype, a photographic process by two Frenchman – Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (pronounced: nee-epps) in 1837.

    On January 9, 1839, the French Academy of Science announced the Daguerreotype process to the world, and on August 19, 1839, the French government purchased the patent and permitted its use for free, except for the English who were required to pay a fee. The use of the patent was a “gift to the world”.

    There were several inventors of photography the world over. Some were aware of each other, others worked in isolation. Most of the early inventors were trying to fix an image through the action of light.  Each was motivated by “a need” in their own working lives besides having scientific curiosity.

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    Mirror with a Memory
  • Beaumont Newhall - Personal Memories

    I feel a little like my mother who used to start apologizing for her cooking as she was bringing the food to the table. I hope my writing about Beaumont doesn’t get tiresome for you readers.  So much of my life has been impacted by the years I spent with him, 1978 -1993, and still is, because of my role as co-executor of his and Nancy Newhall’s estate. Although I’ve told the story of my meeting him many times, today I would like to write about Beaumont’s photography and how my printing his photographs led to becoming a fine art photography dealer.

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    Beaumont Newhall – Personal Memories
  • Laura Gilpin

    I moved to Santa Fe from Brooklyn, New York, in 1978 with the hope of meeting Beaumont Newhall.  I was aware that Santa Fe was considered an art community and although a small town, with a population of about 50,000, I soon realized that within that population there were 10,000 artists.

    I slowly became familiar with other photographers who had made Santa Fe their home. Besides Beaumont Newhall, there was Eliot Porter, Paul Caponigro, Walter Chappell, among many others. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that while walking just three blocks from where I was living, I passed a small adobe house, set back from Monte del Sol, with a sign posted, LAURA GILPIN. I had not known that she lived here and soon after that discovery I made arrangements to visit her. From her wheelchair, she exuded an energy and lightness of being that quickly made me feel welcome. By her choosing, the conversation was more about me than her. She asked most of the questions. I was shown her darkroom and her studio space both filled with photographs everywhere. She passed not long after that day. As I write this I see her before me. What an honor it was to have met her.

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    Laura Gilpin
  • Science and Art

    Since last week’s posting, which included the Sagendorf comic about Johann Heinrich Schultze and his discovery regarding chemical sensitivity to light, I’ve been thinking about the role of science/scientists in the development of photography. Those of you that studied the History of Photography with me know that my first lecture is focused on the “pre-history”.  I have often gone off on a rant thinking about what would have happened if scientists and artists had spent more time together. If that were the case I do believe the technological advances would have been discovered many years before they were.

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    Science and Art
  • Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Manuel Carrillo

    It seems things will continue to challenge us more before things get better. Here in New Mexico, the virus continues to expand throughout our state, especially in the Northwest section, which is primarily the Navajo Nation, and in the south where there are a number of (ICE) Immigration Detention Centers. As if this isn’t enough we are also experiencing a drought with extremely high temperatures. Each day nearing 100 degrees in Santa Fe!

    I realize things are probably not too different where you are, so please, wear your mask and practice social distancing as our medical experts recommend. We want to see all of you when this is over, so take care of yourselves and your families.

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    Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Manuel Carrillo
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

    Today, so close to July 4th, seems fitting to talk about an American classic book: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.  This work, which began as an assignment for Fortune Magazine, in 1936, was to document the lives of sharecroppers in Hale County Alabama. The article was never printed, but five years later, in 1941, it was published as a book. Although it sold few copies upon publication, over the years this volume has taken its place alongside other masterpieces and is still studied today for its blend of prose and photography.

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    Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
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