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!

John Choate, Boarding School Portraits of Tom Torlino
John Choate, Boarding School Portraits of Tom Torlino

Indigenous students at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School were photographed "before and after" forced assimilation.

Dorothea Lange, <em>Migrant Mother</em>
Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother

Meet the two women behind this iconic 1936 photograph.

Shigemi Uyeda’s <i>Reflections on the Oil Ditch</i><br>Getty Conversations
Shigemi Uyeda’s Reflections on the Oil Ditch
Getty Conversations

Using photography, Shigemi Uyeda captured the environment of Los Angeles and the growing popularity of oil production in the early 20th century.

Malick Sidibé’s <i>Vues de dos</i><br>Getty Conversations
Malick Sidibé’s Vues de dos
Getty Conversations

In Vues de dos, Malick Sidibé took his background in portrait photography to new compositions inspired by Mali and Western traditions in portraiture.

Esther Bubley, <i>Waiting for the Bus at the Memphis Terminal</i>
Esther Bubley, Waiting for the Bus at the Memphis Terminal

At the age of 22, American photographer Esther Bubley took a six-week unaccompanied Greyhound bus trip.

Alphonse Bertillon, <em>Mugshot and Record of Francis Galton</em>
Alphonse Bertillon, Mugshot and Record of Francis Galton

Portrait photographs were used by police in France, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States to help police and victims try to identify repeat offenders—but also point to implicit biases in policing.

Santu Mofokeng, <em>Train Churches</em>
Santu Mofokeng, Train Churches

Santu Mofokeng's Train Churches shows people preaching, praying, healing, dancing, and making music while commuting on train cars in South Africa.

Malick Sidibé, <em>Nuit de Noël (Happy Couple)</em>
Malick Sidibé, Nuit de Noël (Happy Couple)

Fun and festive, Nuit de Noël (Happy Couple) is exemplary of Malick Sidibé’s best known body of work: photographs of young people at social gatherings and events during the 1960s and 1970s.

László Moholy-Nagy, <i>Photogram</i>
László Moholy-Nagy, Photogram

László Moholy-Nagy's Photogram forces the viewer to question what a photograph is.

Binh Danh, <em>Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite CA, May 31, 2012</em>
Binh Danh, Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite CA, May 31, 2012

Can we ever really see and experience a site without comparing it to the photographs of that same scene?

Joel Sternfeld, <em>On This Site—The Stonewall Inn</em>
Joel Sternfeld, On This Site—The Stonewall Inn

On This Site reminds us of the many tragedies that have marked American history and yet remain unmarked, on-site and in the present.

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, <em>View from the Window at Le Gras</em>
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, View from the Window at Le Gras

Niépce's heliograph is the earliest surviving camera-made photograph.

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