Historical outline of photographic representation

‘Jeeves,’ I said, ‘have you ever pondered on Life?’

‘From time to time, sir, in my leisure moments.’

‘Grim, isn’t it, what?’

‘Grim, sir?’

‘I mean to say, the difference between things as the way they look and things as they are.’

(P.G. Wodehouse 1930: 18)

The history of photography over the last 180 years traces the emergence of a practice that has revolutionised our understanding of visual communication. We can therefore propose that, in contrast to the conventional approach of describing the invention and development of the medium, we should study the medium’s growth in social, cultural and psychological significance to offer an understanding of the photographic phenomenon. But in ...

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