A history of photography

Where would we be without our cameras?

c. 1827–now

Beginner's guide

"To collect photographs is to collect the world."
—Susan Sontag, On Photography (1977)

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, <em>Newhaven Fishwives</em>
David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, Newhaven Fishwives

Hill and Adamson spent considerable time documenting the daily life and activity of the village of Newhaven, making upwards of 130 calotypes during their visits. 

Honoré Daumier, <em>Nadar Elevating Photography to the Height of an Art</em>
Honoré Daumier, Nadar Elevating Photography to the Height of an Art

Despite the medium’s infancy, Daumier’s lithograph leads the viewer to believe that 1862 Paris was teeming with photography studios.

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, <em>The Artist’s Studio / Still Life with Plaster Casts</em>
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, The Artist’s Studio / Still Life with Plaster Casts

Daguerre’s The Artist’s Studio shows off his new medium’s promise—photography—as an art form.

Eadweard Muybridge, <em>The Horse in Motion</em>
Eadweard Muybridge, The Horse in Motion

When the first eleven images of Sallie Gardner are seen in rapid succession at a speed of at least 24 frames per second, they allow us to re-experience her run.  

Photographing the Battle of Gettysburg: Timothy O’Sullivan’s <em>A Harvest of Death</em>
Photographing the Battle of Gettysburg: Timothy O’Sullivan’s A Harvest of Death

One of the most famous landscape photographs showing the horrible aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Will Wilson interview about <em>The Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange</em>
Will Wilson interview about The Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange

An interview with Will Wilson about how his photographs engage with the work of Edward Curtis

Anna Atkins and the cyanotype process
Anna Atkins and the cyanotype process

Although today Atkins’s prints are sold and viewed as art, they were originally made as botanical illustrations.

Catherine Opie, Figure and Landscape series
Catherine Opie, Figure and Landscape series

For this series, Opie photographed football games and players in seven states across America—but looked past clichés associated with the sport

Roger Fenton, <em>Landscape with clouds</em>
Roger Fenton, Landscape with clouds

How the only copy of this landscape photograph is revolutionary

Seydou Keïta, <em>Untitled</em> (Seated Woman with Chevron Print Dress)
Seydou Keïta, Untitled (Seated Woman with Chevron Print Dress)

Studio photography produced mementos for the growing middle class: Keïta’s Bamako studio was abuzz with clients.

Rashid Johnson on Robert Frank’s <i>The Americans</i>
Rashid Johnson on Robert Frank’s The Americans

"He allows us to see just a few things, and the narratives that we're able to build as a result is what really makes this work so important."

LaToya Ruby Frazier on Gordon Parks’s <i>Red Jackson</i>
LaToya Ruby Frazier on Gordon Parks’s Red Jackson

Contemporary artist LaToya Ruby Frazier discusses the dignity and complexity given a Harlem gang leader in this photographic portrait

Selected Contributors

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