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!

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Although today Atkins’s prints are sold and viewed as art, they were originally made as botanical illustrations.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

Mickalene Thomas on Seydou Keïta
Mickalene Thomas on Seydou Keïta

Contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas discusses the use of grayscale and pattern to imbue the richness of humanity in Seydou Keïta's portraits of Malian life

An-My Lê, <i>29 Palms</i>
An-My Lê, 29 Palms

An-My Lê's photographs and films examine the impact, consequences, and representation of war, framing a tension between the natural landscape and its violent transformation into battlefields.

Graciela Iturbide, Photographing Mexico
Graciela Iturbide, Photographing Mexico

Rejecting the sensationalization of Mexico's injustices, Iturbide embeds herself within the communities when taking photographs

How Photographs of Poverty in the Americas Ignited an International Battle over Propaganda
How Photographs of Poverty in the Americas Ignited an International Battle over Propaganda

The episode reveals how such approaches by the press can override and contaminate the subjects portrayed.

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