Eastman House Releases History of Photography Processes Video Series


Eastman House Releases History of Photography Processes Video Series

“We make photographs in a different way from the way we used to, but we make them for the same reasons…I would argue that a 19th-century Victorian family album has exactly the same purpose as the 200 pictures of your kid that you carry on your phone.”

– Alison Nordström, photography curator


The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film has released a 12 part video series about the history of photographic process.


Examining the history of photography from the perspective of technology, Eastman’s series traces the craft from silhouettes through daguerreotypes to Kodachrome and up through digital.


While 6 of the 12 videos have been available online since 2012, the newly added 6 round out the collection into a thorough and informative program.


Beginning with 18th-century innovations like the camera obscura, the dominant voice in the series belongs to Mark Osterman, a process historian who demonstrates or reenacts historic techniques. He explains that despite his deep knowledge of sometimes-obsolete processes, he loves digital, among other reasons because it serves as a reminder of the absence of a physical contact with the photograph. “Artists have come to a point where many of them are saying, ‘I feel like the machine is in control and I want to have my hands in this object’,” Osterman explains. “When the finished object is something other than a computer screen it harkens back to the day when photography was a craft. It’s not just about the image, although the image is king. It’s about the object itself, and you made that object.”