Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography

Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography

2nd Edition

By Robert Hirsch

  • Copyright: 2009

  • Publication Date: Dec 09 2008

  • ISBN 10: 0073379212

  • ISBN 13: 9780073379210



Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography provides a thought-provoking, accurate, and accessible introduction to the photographic arts for all readers. With stunning images and comment

Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography provides a thought-provoking, accurate, and accessible introduction to the photographic arts for all readers. With stunning images and commentary by hundreds of international artists, the text clearly and concisely provides the building blocks necessary to critically explore photographic history from the photographers' eye, an aesthetic point of view.

  • Language: English – lower case

  • Imprint: McGraw-Hill College

  • Dimension: 8.5 x 10.8

  • Page Count: 496

New Features

  • New sections on digital imaging, examining how digital imaging has altered photographic practice in the arts and journalism, especially its notions of Truth and veracity.
  • Updated coverage of photographic practice since 2000 and key concepts driving today's photo-based imagemaking.
  • Updates and additions throughout, including a new section, The Photo Booth: Self-Portraits for All, in Chapter 12 and the effects of 9/11 and the War in Iraq in Chapters 14 and 18.

Key Features

  • Comprehensive: Explores the events, methods, practitioners, and theories, from the camera obscura to digital image-making, which comprises the photographic arts including advertising, fashion, journalism, and non-traditional viewpoints.
  • High production quality: The photographs in Seizing the Light are reproduced on heavy paper, at large sizes, and with careful attention to subtle variation in tints and shading.
  • Incorporates professionals into the artistic narrative: From Weegee, the original paparazzo, to three generations of war correspondents covering the American Civil War, two World Wars, and Vietnam, Seizing the Light shows how front-page cameramen and women have influenced the development of the art of photography.
  • Traces the relationship between the art and the science of photography: Beginning with pinhole cameras and progressing to digitalization, Seizing the Light relates artistic developments to the technical advances that made them possible.
  • Addresses the social influence of photography: The book shows how, from the Dust Bowl to the Vietnam War, photographs have had a profound affect on Western society and culture.
  • Excellent coverage of photography since 1945: Post-war photography and the influence of digital technologies are thoroughly covered.







CHAPTER ONE - Advancing toward Photography: The Birth of Modernity

A Desire for Visual Representation


Thinking of Photography

Camera Vision

The D

Table of Contents



CHAPTER ONE - Advancing toward Photography: The Birth of Modernity

A Desire for Visual Representation


Thinking of Photography

Camera Vision

The Demand for Picturemaking Systems

Proto-Photographers: Chemical Action of Light

Modernity: New Visual Realities

Optical Devices

Images through Light: A Struggle for Permanence

Other Distinct Originators

CHAPTER TWO - The Daguerreotype: Image and Object

What Is a Daguerreotype?

The Daguerreotype Comes to America

The Early Practitioners

Early Daguerrean Portrait Making

Technical Improvements

Expanding U.S. Portrait Studios

The Art of the Daguerrean Portrait

Daguerrean Portrait Galleries and Picture Factories

African-American Operators

Rural Practice

Post-Mortem Portraits

The Daguerreotype and the Landscape

The Daguerreotype and Science

CHAPTER THREE - Calotype Rising: The Arrival of Photography

The Calotype

Early Calotype Activity

Calotypists Establish a Practice

Calotype and Architecture: Mission Heliographique

The End of the Calotype and the Future of Photography

CHAPTER FOUR - Pictures on Glass: The Wet-Plate Process

The Albumen Process

The New Transparent Look

The Ambrotype

Pictures on Tin

The Carte-de-Visite and the Photo Album

The Cabinet Photograph: The Picture Gets Bigger

The Studio Tradition

Retouching and Enlargements

The Stereoscope

The Stereo Craze

CHAPTER FIVE - Prevailing Events/Picturing Calamity

Current Events

Early War Coverage

The American Civil War

How Photographs Were Circulated

CHAPTER SIX - A New Medium of Communication

Photography: Art or Industry?

Discovering a Photographic Language

Americans and the Art of Nature


CHAPTER SEVEN - Standardizing the Practice: A

Transparent Truth

Mechanical Photography

The Traveling Camera

Picturing Industrialization

Urban Life

The American West: The Narrative and the Sublime

CHAPTER EIGHT - New Ways of Visualizing Time and Space

The Inadequacy of Human Vision


Transforming Aesthetics: Technical Breakthroughs

The Hand-Held Camera and the Snapshot

Time and Motion as an Extended Continuum

Moving Pictures

Color and Photography

CHAPTER NINE - Suggesting the Subject: The Evolution of Pictorialism

Roots of Pictorialism

Pictorialism and Naturalism

The Development of Pictorial Effect

The Secession Movement and the Rise of Photography Clubs

The Aesthetic Club Movement

Working Pictorially: A Variety of Approaches

American Perspectives

The Photo-Secession

The Decadent Movement and Tonalism

Women Pictorialists

The Pictorial Epoch/The Stieglitz Group

The Decline of Pictorialism

CHAPTER TEN - Modernism's Innovations

Industrial Beauty


High and Low Art


Time, Movement, and the Machine

Towards a Modern Practice: Distilling Form


Exploring Space and Time: The Return of the Photogram




Art, Technology, and a New Faith

Paul Strand and Straight Photography: Purity of Use

CHAPTER ELEVEN - The New Culture of Light

Teaching Modernism: The American Impulse

Stieglitz's Equivalents

Steichen Goes Commercial

Form as Essence

Straight, Modernistic Photography

Film und Foto and New Objectivity

Experimentally Modern

New Vision

Pathways of Light: Time, Space, and Form

Surrealistic Themes

CHAPTER TWELVE - Social Documents

An American Urge: Social Uplift

Ethnological Approaches

Emerging Ethnic Consciousness

The Physiognomic Approach

The Great Depression: The Economics of Photography

The FAP Project: Changing New York

The Photo Booth: Self-Portraits for All

Mass Observation

The Film and Photo League


Anticipating the Moment

CHAPTER FOURTEEN - From Halftones to Bytes

Pictures and Printers Ink

The Photo Magazine

The Separation of Art and Commerce: Advertising and Fashion


War Reportage

The New Subjective Journalism

Bytes of News

CHAPTER FIFTEEN - The Atomic Age: New Light/Fresh Methods

The Surrealistic Metaphor

The Photograph as Spirit

Photo Education as Self-Expression

Family of Man

Photography and Alienation

Making a Big Jump

The Subjective Documentary

The Terror of Riches

CHAPTER SIXTEEN - New Frontiers: Expanding Boundaries

Structuralism: Reading a Photograph

The Found Image: The Beginnings of Postmodernism

The Rise of Pop Art

Challenging the Code

The Social Landscape

New Journalism

Multiple Points of View

The Rapid Growth of Photographic Education

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN - Changing Realities

Alternative Visions

Turning the Straight Photograph on Itself

Personal Accounts: Documentary Fiction

The Snapshot

Post-Structuralism/New Topographics

The Rephotographic Survey Project/Time Changes

Color Rising

Artists' Books

Reconfiguring Information

Expanding Markets

Critical Writing

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN - Thinking About Photography

Conceptual Art: The Act of Choosing

Performance Art

A Return to Typologies


Deconstructing Myths

Gender Issues


Altering Time and Space

Investigating the Body

Multiculturalism: Exploring Identity & History

A Personal Cultural Landscape

The Digital Future Is Now

The Postphotographic Age


Individual Artists


Sources of Artists Books




About the Authors

Robert Hirsch

Robert Hirsch is an artist, author, curator, and educator.<p> Hirsch is the author of <b><i>Seizing the Light: A History of Photography; Exploring Color Photography: From the Darkroom to the Digital Studio</b></i> published by McGraw-Hill and <i>Photographic Possibilities: The Expressive Use of Ideas, Materials, and Processes</I> published by Focal Press.<p> He is a former associate editor for Photovision magazine and is a contributing writer for Afterimage, Digital Photography (UK), exposure, Ilford Photo Newsletter, and The Photo Review.<p> He was the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art (CEPA Gallery) in Buffalo, NY.<p> Hirsch is on the art faculty of SUNY Buffalo and teaches history of photography online through Eastern New Mexico University.<p> Recently his images have been shown at: University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; Vermont Center for Photography, Brattleboro, VT; Artspace, New Haven, CT; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, Brooklyn, NY; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD; and Stefan Stux Gallery, NY, NY. <p>