Photography 115
History of Photography


Sheeler, Wheels, 1939, Black & White Photo, Met Museum

This course is an introductory survey of the history of photography from its beginnings in the 1820s to the present.  We focus on both technical and artistic developments, with the aim of discovering how photography has changed the way in which we see the world today.  We will also work toward understanding the growing importance of photography as an art form.

History of Photography (PHO 115) is useful for majors in art, photography, fashion design, computer graphics, and all other art-related fields.  By studying photographs, students learn to understand elements of design and the requirements of successful compositions. History of Photography is also useful to history majors, or anyone interested in history, sociology or political science, because photography has not only been used to document history, but it also has been helpful in shaping history and world opinion.   

History of Photography (PHO 115) may be counted toward degree requirements in Art at BCC, and may be transferable. (Consult with your transfer institution).

Course Syllabus

Required Text: Naomi Rosenblum, A World History of Photography, 3rd edition

Course Objectives and Goals: This course will examine the development and history of photography as an art form, and the impact this new medium has had on both art and culture. We will examine images thematically as well as chronologically, focusing on issues that photography raises for today’s audience. Themes will include photography and war, use of photography in politics, censorship, use of photography for social protest,Weegee stereotyping and gender roles in photographs, copyrights and legal questions, including the rights of victims and related privacy issues.   

The course is also intended to introduce you to major photographers and their work, to teach you to analyze photographs and discuss their artistic styles, and to show how photography has influenced our views of the world in which we live. The course will also examine the rising importance of photography in the art market and show other ways, as well, that prove photography has come of age as an art form and is an increasingly important force in shaping our world culture. Enjoy.

Weegee with his Speed Graphic Camera, c.1944

Course Requirements and Grading

            You will receive grades for the following: three quizzes, a class presentation, final exam and class discussion.

            Each quiz consists of short essays and identifications.  You will be asked to discuss the style of photographs, to understand the importance of individual photographs in the context of the development of photography, and to be familiar with the relationship of photographs to the culture that produced them (to be able to discuss particular photos in the context of historical or social issues related to specific pictures). The tests are not difficult, but they do require study.

            The discussion grade reflects the general effort I feel you are putting into the course.  It considers class discussion, attendance, and any positive contributions made toward the success of the course.  This grade is especially important for borderline students, but applies to everyone.

            Special Points: Students are graded on improvement, if improvement is fairly constant, which means greater weight may be placed on work completed at the end of the semester. Any exceptionally good piece of work may be given greater weight in determining your final average.

Class Presentation

            Each student will deliver a short class presentation drawn from the topic selections included in this syllabus. The presentation will demonstrate specialized  knowledge of a single photographer or issue in photography. The project allows you to pick something that particularly interests you and study it in detail.  Topics must be selected early in order to prepare visual aids (slides, photographs, etc.). The presentation will be scheduled during one regular class meeting this semester.  

Attendance and Lectures

            Tests are based on lectures.  Attendance is considered in grading and is necessary for attaining good grades.  You are responsible for all material, including handouts, presented in class.  You are responsible for being able to identify all objects on the “List of Works” and being able to discuss the general ideas presented for all works shown and discussed in class (including those NOT on the List of Works).  If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes and handouts.  If you know in advance you must miss a class, ask a friend to tape the lecture for you.  Read the text, which is very good,  in conjunction with the lectures.
Photo Speak

            Ability to express yourself clearly and concisely is important.  The History of Photography involves learning facts about pictures, but it also deals heavily with the ability to describe pictures and events accurately. Describing photography involves learning to look at pictures carefully and talk about them clearly. Learning how to do that here will help you in the other things you do. Learn basic terms, practice using them, and spend as mush time as possible looking at the illustrations.  Practice by analyzing and describing the style and importance of  pictures that have not been discussed in class.                       

Talk to Your Art History Teacher Who Is Really a Very Nice Person

            Talk to me before or after class, during office hours, by appointment or on the phone.  See me with questions, concerns, or ideas about your projects.  During week days, call 609-894-9311, x6252.  At other times, call me at home (609-894-8070).  Please identify yourself as a History of Photography student.

            The Art History teacher has also recently joined the machine age and can now be reached by e-mail at: or Use e-mail for questions, comments or presentation drafts and notes. 


            The ultimate test: Can you duplicate the style of one of the photographers we studied this semester? Each student will complete a final exam consisting of a short class presentation based on photographs, taken this semester, in the style of one of the photographers we have studied. The presentation will include a discussion of the photographer’s style, choice of subject matter, and any special techniques the photographer used in the studio or lab. Bring your own photos and good-quality illustrations of your photographer’s work for comparison purposes, and aim to show the class how your works are done in the same style. 

            The purpose of this format is to encourage each of you to examine photographic style more closely by actually trying to duplicate the personal style of a successful photographer.  If you do not have a camera, see me for help. An expensive camera is not needed; a disposable camera will work.  You will not be graded on your technical skill in photography; rather, you will be graded on your ability to understand, discuss and replicate the basics of style of a known photographer. For example, if you select Ansel Adams, I do not expect you to achieve the clarity and value contrasts of an original Adams print, but I do hope you will see the way he set up his compositions, the type of subject he selected (and how he treated that subject), and the way he used light in creating his final picture.

            Your final exam presentation, which is the second and last presentation for the course, should not repeat subject matter from your first presentation.  
Missed Exams

            Missing exams is discouraged. If it is necessary to miss an exam, notify me as soon as possible. You may make up only one exam.  Students who miss an exam are not eligible for an “A” in the course.

            Students missing an exam must make arrangements with me before taking a makeup.  Makeups  are given in the test center and consist of four (out of six) essay questions which ask about the relationship of  specific photographs to the history, culture and issues surrounding their production.     


            Turn work in on time.  Late work receives a lowered letter grade: Late presentations and makeup quizzes (not completed within two weeks of the original quiz) may be lowered ten points.


Robert Capa, Death of a Loyalist
The International Center for Photography has a wonderful Capa archive.
Visit online and in person for ICP's current shows: http:/www./

List of Works Covered

 Introduction, A Short Technical History (p. 192-199), The Early Years (chpt.1)
3, Daguerre, Pencil Sketch, French. 19th century
6, Niepce, View from His Window, Fr., c, 1826/7
7, Daguerre, Boulevard
10, Halffter, Berlin, Gr., 1851
13, Anon., Morse, Am., c. 1845
17, Whipple, Moon, Am., 1851
21, Talbot, Photogenic Drawing of Plant, Eng., 1839
23, Talbot, The Open Door
25, Bayard, Self-Portrait as a Suicide, Fr., 1840
26, Daguerre, Still Life, 1837 

Early Portraits (chpt. 2 and 3)
31, Claudet, The Geography lesson, Fr-Eng.c. 1850
32, Anon., Photographer’s  Studio, Eng., 1843
34, Millet, Family, Fr., 1850s
38, Draper, Dorothy, Am., 1840
39, Plumbe, Mrs. Francis Luqueer, Am.
41, Anon, Douglas, Am., 1847
44, Litho after a photo by Brady, Audubon, Am., 1850
48, Anon, Dead child, Am., c. 1850
56, Pierson, Countess Castiglione, Fr., c. 1860
65, Nadar, Sarah Bernhardt, Fr., 1865
64,  Paul Nadar, L:illie Langtry, Fr.
68, Gardner, Lincoln, Am., 1865
73, Lewis Carroll, Three Sisters, Eng., 1859
74, Cameron, My Niece, Eng., 1867
76-77, Diamond, Inmates, Eng.,1852 

Landscape(Chpt. 3)
111, DuCamp, Colossus at Abu Simbel, Fr., 1850
116, Le Gray,  Brig Upon the Water, Fr.,  1856
** Le Gray, Seascape
145, Moran, Delaware Water Gap, Am., 1864
150, Muybridge, Volcano Quetzeltenango, Guatemala, 1875
163, O’Sullivan, Ancient Ruins, Am., 1873
167, Haynes, Geyser, Yellowstone, Am., 1885 

Documentation (Chpt. 4 )
186, Rau, New Main Line, Am., 1906
187, Southworth and Hawes, Operating Room, Am. 1840s
196, Curtis, The Vanishing Race, Am., 1904
205, Anon., Communards in Coffins, Fr., 1871
207, Brady, Landing supplies, Am., c. 1861
209, O’Sullivan, Harvest of Death, Am., 1863
227, Anon., John Wilkes Booth, Am., n.d.
231, Gardner, Lewis Payne, Conspirator, Am., 1865
234, Gardenr, Condemned Conspirators, Am., 1865
236, Gardner, Adjusting the Ropes
238, Gardner, Hanging Bodies 

Photography and Art (chpt. 5, chpt. 6 and chpt. 7)
242, Durieu, Figure Study, Fr., c. 1853
246, Durand, The Pool, Am., 1859
247, Church, Arch of Titus, Am., 1871
248, Longfellow and Daughter, It., 1860s
249, Krone, Nude Study, Gr., 1850
250, Anon., Nude, 1870s
254, Eakins, Students at the Swimming Hole, Am., 1883
255, Eakins, The Swimming Hole, Am., 1883
259, Krone, Still Life, Gr., 1853
268, Robinson, Fading Away, Eng., 1858
284, Anderson, Moses, Eng., 1850s
291, Muybridge, Foreshortening, Am., 1879
292, Anon, Cover of Scientific America, Am., 1878
295, Eakins, The Fairyman, Am., 1879
298, Eakins, History of a Jump, 1184-5
301, Degas, Frieze of Dancers, Fr., 1883
302, Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, Fr., 1912
303, Monet, Boulevard, Fr., 1873
** Picasso, Olga, Sp., 1917 (photo and painting)
** Steichen, Rodin with Thinker, Am., 1903
**  Brancusi, Bird in Space, Rumania, c. 1920
309, Lartigue, Avenue, Fr., 1911
310, Nicholls, The Fortune Teller, Eng., 1910
311, Zille, Handstadns, Gr., c. 1900
312, Stieglitz, The Terminal, Am., 1892
315, Bellocq, Prostitue, Am., 1913
322, Van Der Zee, Couple in Racoon Coats, Am., 1932
332, Vogel and Reichardt, Seated Girl, c. 1860, Gr.
334, Lewis Carroll, Albumen print with applied color, Eng., 1873
336, Steichen, Flatiron Building, Am., 1905
348, Irving, Autochrome Print, 1907
352, Gilpin, Still Life, Autochrome, Am., 1981
353, Stieglitz, Waiting..., Am., c. 1895 (pictorialism)
354, Stiechen, Woods Interior, 1898
358, White, Nude, Am., 1909
363, Day, Crucifixion,1898
371, Evans, In the Attics, Eng., 1896
** Evans, Sea of Steps
379, Hofmeister, Haymaker, c. 1904
401, Steiglitz, Sun’s Rays, Am., 1889
402, Stieglitz, Steerage
403, Steiglitz, Equivalent, 1929
407, Stieglitz and White, Miss Thompson, 1907 

Chapter 8, Documentation: The Social Scene
435, Thompson, Street Life in London, 1877
439, Riis, Five Cents Lodging, Am., c. 1889
** Riis, Bandit’s Roost
** Riis, Street Arabs
479, Riis, The Man Slept in the Cellar, c. 1890
446, Hine, Powerhouse Mechanic, Am., 1925
466, Hine, Making Human Junk, 1915
474, Hine, Boys in Coal Mine, 1911
476, Hine, Ten-Year-old Spinner, 1908
475, Smith, Tomoko in Her Bath, 1972
447, Sander, Pastry Cook, Ger., 1928
451, Lange, Migrant Mother, Am., 1936
452, Bourke-White, Two Women, Am., 1936
454, Abbott, New York at Night, Am, 1933
456, Vishniac, Entrance to Ghetto, Cracow, Russian, 1937
457, Vishniac,Granddaughter and Grandfather, Warsaw, 1938
** Vishniac, Teh Basement Had No heat, 1939
467, Shahn, County Fair, Am., 1938
471, Shahn, Cotton Pickers, 1935
472, Evens, Window Display, Am., 1935
477, Mobath, Buckingham Palace, 1954
478, Engel, Rebecca, Harlem, 1947 

Chapter 9, Art, Photography and Moderism
525, Sheeler, Upper Deck, Am., c. 1927
533, Weston, Eroded Plank, 1931
547, Weston, Nude, 1926
560, Weston, Shell, 1927
561, Weston, Pepper, 1930
539, Finsler, Bridge, 1929
540, Schell, Brooklyn Bridge, Am.,
535, Cunningham, Two Callas, Am., 1929
546, Cunningham, Triangles. 1928
537, Adams, Monolith, half Dome, Am., 1927
559, Strand, The Family, Am., 1953
578, Strand, Lathe, 1923
584, Weston, Steel Co., 1922
585, Sheeler, Industry, 1932 

Chapter 10, Words and Pictures
** Rosenthal, Raising the Flag, Iwo Jima, Am., 1945
601, Khaldey, Raising the Hammer and Scicle, Russian, 1945
606, Capa, Death of a Loyalist Soldier, Am., 1936
607, Capa, Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944
608, Smith, Marines under Fire, 1943
** Burrows, Da Nang, Am., 1965
** Miller, Buchenwald, Am., 1945
611, McCullin, Ill-Treated Prisoners Awaiting Death, 1964
613, Baltermants, Identifying the Dead,  1942
** Haeberle, People About to be Shot, 1969
** Vichith, Mother Holding Dying Daughter, Cambodia, 1975
**  Cartier-Bresson, Exposing an Informer, Fr., 1945
620, Cartier-Bresson, Matisse, 1944
621,  Cartier-Bresson, Sunday, 1938
659, Cartier-Bresson, Brussels, 1932
622, Brassi, Bijou, Fr., 1933
624, Weegee, The Critic, Am., 1943
634, Avedon, The Veiled Reds, 1978
651, Avedon, Donyale Luna, 1966
635, Reutlinger Studio, Dinner Dress, Fr., 1906
639, Beaton, marlene Dietrich, 1932
641, Frissell, Vogue Photo, 1939
643, Rawlings, Vogue Cover, 1944
646, Dahl-Wolfe, The Covert Look, 1949
647, Hiro, Fabric, Harper’s Bazaar, 1967 

Chapter 11, Photography Since 1950: The Straight Image
663, Callahan, Eleanor, Am., 1954
665, Minor White, ...Strata, Am., 1962
671, Frank, Trolly, Am., 1955
672, Frank, Rally, 1955
674, Arbus, Moterh Holding Baby, Am., 1967
675, Winogrand, Untitled, Am., 1964
677, Erwitt, Alabama, USA, Am., 1974
678, Wegman, Man Ray with Sculpture, Am., 1978
688, Lyon, The Line, 1968
689, Mark, Tiny, Am., 1983
** Mark, Santa Claus at Lunch, 1963
** Neshat, Faceless, from “Women of Allah,” Iran, 1994
692, Parks, Housewife, Am., 1942
** Parks, Harlem
696, Arndt, Man Riding Bus, 1981
697, Nixon, Perkins School for the Blind, 1992
702, Eleta, Lovers, Panama, 1977
704, Casals, Puruchuco, Peru, 1980
706, Iturbide, Senor..., Mexico, 1984
709, Ray-Jones, Glyndebourne, Eng., 1967
713, Rodero, Pilgrimage, Sp., 1980
716, Peress, N. Ireland, 1986
727, Halsam, Dali Atomicus, 1948
728, Karsch, Churchill, 1941
729, Newman, O’Keeffe, Am., 1968
** Zimmerman, Marilyn, Am., 1954
** Film Still, Un Chien Andelou (Dali and Bunnel), 1928
** Film Still, North by Northwest (Hitchock), 1959
** Film Still, Bergman, The Seventh Seal, 1956
** Film Still, The Graduate, 1960s
** Film Still, Jurassic Park, 1990s (Spielberg)
** Censored Photo of  Paul Gelanti, Life Magazine, Vietnam
** Mapplethorpe, Rosie (or a substitute work), Am. 1980s
** Serrano, Piss Christ (or a substitute work), Am., 1980s

Chapter 12, Photography Since 1950: Manipulations and Color
737, Michaels, Chance Meeting, 1969
739, Weems, Jim..., 1987
741, Gilbert & Geoge, Eye,m Eng., 1992
742, Josephson, Drottningholm, Sweden, 1967
743, Sherman, Untitled (#156), Am., 1985
746, Kruger, You Get Away With Murder, Am., 1987
319, Atget, Avenue des Gobelins, Fr., 1925
327, Atget, Prostitute, 1920s
328, Atget, La Marne, 1925
494, Man Ray, Violon d’Ingres, Am., 1924
748, Vogt, Metaphysical Scene, 1972
749, Steinert, Children’s Carnival, 1971
750, Fuss, Love, 1992
754, Neimanas, Untitled, 1981
756, Uelsmann, Cloud Room, 1975
761, Kirstel, Water Babies, 1976
763, Tress, The Actor, 1973
764, Krims, Homage..., 1971
765, Brihat, William Pear, 1972
767, Clergue, Nude, 1962
768, Kon, Dress of Peas, 1994
772, Callahan, Chicago, 1951
773, Porter, Red Bud Tres, 1968
776, Mudford, Ayers Rock, 1973
777, Orkin, Balloon, 1977
780, Meyerowitz, Porch, 1977
782, Epstein, Camel Fair, 1878
785, Norfleet, Catbird and Bedspring Debris, 1984
788, Purcell, Untitled, 1978
789, Parker, Four Pears, 1979
790, Samaras, March 19, 1983, Am., 1983
793, Meiselas, Nicaragua, 1978
796, Savage, Presssed Flowers, 1969-80
797, Barrow, Films, 1978
801, Burson, Untitled, 1988
802, Rauschenberg, Kiesler, Am., 1966
803, Red Elvis, Am., 1962
804, Baldessari, Chimpanzees and...1984
806, Close, Composite Self-Portrait, Am., 1979
807, Estes, Central Savings, Am., 1975


Here is a list of topics or themes that will be covered in this course. This list should provide ideas for class presentations. Individual photographs to be covered are given in the “List of Works.”

1.  Introduction: How to Look at and Analyze a Photograph as Art: Subject vs. style, Composition (symmetry, balance, open vs. closed compositions, compositional devices and implied lines), value, color, texture, symbolism, space (2D, 3D), proportion and scale, etc. 

 2.  The Technical History and Development of Photography
            A.  Before photography:  Brunelleschi, Camera Obscura (Vermeer), others
            B.  Technical development of modern photography, beginning with Niepce’s 1826 photo                   View from Window at Gras (traditionally, the first accepted photo)
            C.  Early uses of photography:  Landscape, historical documents/records, inc. travel photos 

3. Photography as Art: The Interrelationship of Painting, Sculpture and Photography in the 19th and 20th Centuries
            A.  Early photographers who try to duplicate painting in subject and style
            B. 19th and early 20th century painters and sculptors influenced by photography  (Degas and others).  How they are influenced by photography, when and how they try to compete with photography, photographs by known artists (Picasso, etc.)
            C.  Artist using photography to enhance their work and reputation (Rodin, Brancusi)
            D.  How artists use photography today (Photorealism, Close, Rauschenberg and others) 

4.  Photography in War
            A.  History and development
            B. How photography has changed our views of war, from Brady’s Civil War photos to the wars in Iraq. 

5.   Photography and Nature: How photos reflect our attitudes toward the land and influence us (Adams, among others) 

6.  Documentary Photography
            A. Photojournalism, beginning with coverage of Lincoln’s Assassination
            B. Victims: What are the rights of the victims who are photographed? (Execution shots, etc.) What are the rights of the photographer to “get” the shot? 

7.   Celebrities, Fashion Photography, Movie Stills (North by Northwest, Citizen Kane, super models) 

8.  The Photograph as a Visual Record of Truth: Part I, Social  Comment 
A. Photos of the poor: Lange (migrant workers, depression years), Reiss (urban poor). Hine (child labor)
            B. Photos of ethnic groups: immigrants, ethnic minorities
            C. Stereotypes: gender roles (Sherman), types (Sander),  ethnic groups (documenting stereotypes, using  photography to challenge stereotypes, inc. Gordon Parks, American Gothic
            D. The dark side/humans on the fringe: Arbus, Mark 

9.   The Photograph as a Visual Record of Truth: Part II, When Photos Lie
            A.  Controversial photographs, Capa’s Death of a Loyalist—a fake?
            B.  Fantasy images and Surrealism in Photography, including Atget, Man Ray, Miller
            C.  Abstraction: Weston’s blow ups of nature
            D.  Doctored photos, e.g., Russian images used to rewrite history, celebrity portraits, etc.

10.  Photography and Science
            A.  Studies of Motion (Muybridge)
            B.  Space shots, NASA
            C.  Photography and evidence
            D.  Photos through microscopes           

11.  Censorship, Pornography, Shock Tactics and Related Issues: Mapplethorpe, Serrano 

12.  Great photographers: Comparison/Profiles of  top photographers and their photographic styles 

13.  Photography and Politics: Images of rulers, photography as propaganda 

14.  The Family: Birth, Marriage and Death. How we use photography to document our lives 

15.  Recent Developments in Photography, growing impact of photography in the 21st century 

16.  Legal Issues: Copyrights, originality, “art,” the digital revolution 

update 7/5/04

    Return to homepage