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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”