Photography and the American Scene (1839-1861)

Week 2

By the end of week one, you should have completed the reflection on Loughnane’s article as well as a response to the common themes represented in a series of photography websites.

Earlier  we  explored the impact of the early years of photography in America (1839 – 1888) helped define two photographic traditions – press photography and documentary photography. We being with a discussion of the  photography as historical document and reference for understanding cultural values and tastes.

Respond to the prompts after completing all  the readings for this section. All reflections must between 2-3 typed pages.

In her essay Photography in Nineteenth-Century America, Martha Sandweiss notes. “Photography came to the United States in the fall of 1839, when word arrived from France of Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre’s marvelous invention, by which nature herself seemed to inscribe her own image on a sensitized sheet of silver-plated copper.”

Sandweiss introduces us to some of the conditions which contributed to photography’s acceptance in America. Industrialization, literacy, Westward expansion, exploration, cultural identity, and technological innovation, provided a few reasons for  photograph’s early popularity. Photography, over time, would come to define the idea that was America – a promised land of rugged individualism and stoicism

04. Prompt

After reading Sandweiss’ essay what does the author mean when she writes, “No photograph can fully convey the complexity of a single unfolding event or the experience of being in a particular place.” When viewing photographs, what are some of the things that need to be considered before drawing any conclusions about what the images mean.