Thursday, February 19, 2009

Three Major Social Contexts for Photography

            "There is always, to us, a strange fascination, in portraits."   - Walt Whitman
Here we differentiate the differences in the private, public, and scientific photographs of early print. 
In the private realm of portraits, the image would be printed and remain in a small circle of trust, such as family and friends. These portraits would emulate paintings in the sense that the celebrity would be sitting down with an arm on a table lined with cloth or carpet. These portraits would be far less expensive than a painted portrait.
Public photographs were produced in the studio's usually of the photographer and kept in studio's to be seen by the public. It was found that people had an odd interest in looking at other people. The portraits would represent how other people lived and the public enjoyed to see those with money, or those who were poorer. Eventually the gallery owners would pay the celebrity so they could sell and keep the pictures able to be seen.
Other portraits captured "objectively" a subject who must be made to conform to a social type, these portraits were Scientific. They pictured "the primitive, the criminal, the insane, the poor - all those on the margins of the social order."

  - J. Benfaida


At 12:41 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A very good post.

Public, private, scientific portraits had different functions that tell us about the emerging demand for images in the mid-nineteenth century. You did a good job of presenting these three analytical categories.


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