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Seizing the Light

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1999-10-22
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages
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"Its chief virtues are a succinct, mostly lucid style, a wide intellectual scope, a flood of ideas and insights at every turn, sensitivity to the technology and culture of photography, and a willingness to attend to images . . . In the end, perhaps the best measure of a text is whether or not one would choose it from among all the offerings to use in class. I have chosen to use this book." - Photo Review, Spring 2000"An excellent introductory history book." - Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural CriticismIn this wonderful and entertaining book, Hirsch has produced the most useful, readable, and practical successor to Newhall. Seizing the Light is written in a friendly, accessible way -- dense with information, but more hip and lively than other offerings, especially those aimed at college students." - exposure: The research journal of the Society for Photographic Education. Vol. 32.2 (Fall, 1999)Hirsch's prose is very digestible. He writes in a clear, lively style with a minimum of jargon." - Views: the newsletter of the Visual Material Section of the Society of American ArchivistsScience, culture, and art come together in this comprehensive history of photography. With superlative production values, rare and unusual prints, and a fresh perspective, Robert Hirsch has written the ideal companion to the first 200 years of photography.

Author Biography

Robert J. Hirsch (Buffalo, NY) is the Associate Director of Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY and co-director of Visual Studies Workshop Graduate Program. He is also Associate Professor of Art a SUNY/Brockport. Until June of 1999, he was the Director for Photographic Arts (CEPA Gallery), Rochester, NY.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Advancing towards Photography: The Birth of Modernity

A Desire for Visual Representation


Thinking of Photography

Camera Vision

The Demand for Picture-Making Systems

Proto-Photographers: Chemical Action of Light

Modernity: New Visual Realities

Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre

Optical Devices

Images through Light: A Struggle for Permanence

Joseph Nicephore Niépce
John Herschel
William Henry Fox Talbot
Anna Atkins

Other Distinct Originators

Hippolyte Bayard
Mungo Ponton
Hercules Florence

Chapter 2: The Daguerreotype: Image and Object

What is a Daguerreotype?

Samuel Morse

The Daguerreotype Comes to America

The Early Practitioners

Early Daguerreian Portrait Making

Post-Mortem Portraits

Technical Improvements

Expanding U.S. Portrait Studios

Albert Sands Southworth
Josiah Johnson Hawes
Matthew Brady

The Art of the Daguerreian Portrait

Daguerreian Portrait Galleries and Picture Factories

African-American Operators

Rural Practice

The Daguerreotype and the Landscape

The Daguerreotype and Science

John Whipple

Chapter 3: Calotype Rising: The Arrival of Photography

The Calotype

Early Calotype Activity

David Octavius Hill
Robert Adamson
William Newton
Thomas Keith

Calotypists Establish a Practice

Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard
Thomas Sutton
Gustave le Gray
Charles Nègre

Calotype and Architecture: Mission Héliographique

Jean Louis Henri le Secq
Edouard Denis Baldus
Charles Marville

The End of the Calotype and the Future of Photography

Chapter 4: Pictures on Glass: The Wet-Plate Process

The Albumen Process

Frederick Scott Archer

The New Transparent Look

The Ambrotype

Pictures on Tin

The Carte-de-Visite and the Photo Album

André Disdéri
John Mayall

The Cabinet Photograph: The Picture Gets Bigger

The Studio Tradition

Camille Silvy
Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon
Napoleon Sarony

Retouching and Enlargements

The Stereo Craze

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Chapter 5: Prevailing Events/Picturing Calamity

Current Events

Early War Coverage

Roger Fenton
James Robertson
Felice Beato

The American Civil War

Matthew Brady
Alexander Gardner
Timothy O’Sullivan
George Barnard
Andrew Russell

How Photographs Were Circulated

Chapter 6: A New Medium of Communication: Art or Industry?

Lady Elizabeth Eastlake

Discovering a Photographic Language

Lewis Carroll
Oscar Gustave Rejlander
Henry Peach Robinson
Julia Margaret Cameron

Americans and the Art of Nature Positivism

Hugh Welch Diamond
Thomas Barnardo

Chapter 7: Standardizing the Practice: A Transparent Truth

Mechanical Photography

The Traveling Camera

Maxime Du Camp
John B. Green
Auguste Salzmann
John Shaw Smith
Francis Frith
Robert MacPherson
Fratelli Alinari
Bisson Brothers

Picturing Industrialization

Phillip Delamotte
Robert Howlett
Joseph Cundall
Edouard Baldus
Camille Silvy
Samuel Bourne

Urban Life

John Thomson
Thomas Annan

The Other

The American West: The Narrative and the Sublime

Carleton E. Watkins
Timothy O’Sullivan
William Henry Jackson
Eadweard Muybridge

Chapter 8: New Ways of Visualizing Time and Space

The Inadequacy of Human Vision


Thomas Eakins
Etienne-Jules Marey
Ottomar Anschütz

Transforming Aesthetics: Technical Breakthroughs

The Hand Held Camera and the Snapshot

Time and Motion as an Extended Continuum

Moving Pictures


Chapter 9: Suggesting the Subject: The Evolution of Pictorialism

Roots of Pictorialism

Pictorialism and Naturalism

Peter Henry Emerson

The Development of Pictorial Effect

George Davison

The Secession Movement and the Rise of Photography Clubs

The Aesthetic Club Movement

Working Pictorially: A Variety of Approaches

Robert Demachy
Heinrich Keuhn
Frederick Evans
Pierre Dubreuil

American Perspectives

Alfred Stieglitz

The Photo-Secession

The Decadent Movement and Tonalism

Frederick Holland Day
Alvin Langdon Coburn

Women Pictorialists

Gertrude Käsebier
Alice Boughton

The Pictorial Epoch/The Stieglitz Group

Edward Steichen
Adolf de Meyer
Frank Eugene
Clarence Hudson White

The Decline of Pictorialism

Chapter 10: Modernism: Industrial Beauty



High and Low Art


Anton Giulio Bragaglia
Arturo Bragaglia

Time, Movement, and the Machine

Frank B. Gilbreth
Lillian M. Gilbreth

Towards a Modern Practice: Distilling Form

Alvin Coburn
Paul Strand


Exploring Space and Time: The Return of the Photogram

Man Ray
László Moholy-Nagy



Max Ernst
Raoul Hausmann
John Heartfield
Hannah Höch


Aleksandr Rodchenko

Art, Technology, and a New Faith

Morton Schamberg
Charles Sheeler

Paul Strand and Straight Photography: Purity of Use

Chapter 11: The New Culture of Light

Teaching Modernism: The American Impulse

Paul Outerbridge
Margaret Bourke-White

Stieglitz’s “Equivalents”

Steichen Goes Commercial

Form as Essence
Edward Weston

Straight, Modernistic Photography

Group f/64
Ansel Adams
Imogen Cunningham
William Mortensen

Film und Foto & New Objectivity

Albert Renger-Patzsch
Karl Blossfeldt
Jean Eugène Auguste Atget

Experimentally Modern

New Vision
Florence Henri
Gyorgy Kepes

Pathways of Light: Time, Space, and Form

Barbara Morgan
František Drtikol
Francis Joseph Bruguière

Surrealistic Themes

Hans Bellmer
Georges Hugnet
Man Ray
Raoul Ubac

Chapter 12: Social Documents

An American Urge: Social Uplift

Jacob Riis
Lewis Hine

Ethnological Approaches

Adam Vroman
Edward Curtis
Francis Benjamin Johnston
E.J. Bellocq
Tina Modotti

Emerging Ethnic Consciousness

Horace Poolaw
James Van Der Zee
Eudora Welty

The Physiognomic Approach

August Sander

The Great Depression: The Economics of Photography

Dorthea Lange
Walker Evans
Arthur Rothstein
Russell Lee
Ben Shahn
Gordon Parks
Marion Post Wolcott

The FAP Project: Changing New York

Bernice Abbott

Mass Observation

Mass Observation

The Film and Photo League

Sid Grossman
Aaron Siskind

Chapter 13: Nabbing Time: Anticipating the Moment

Realizing a Moment

Jacques-Henri Lartigue
Erich Salomon
André Kertész
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Bill Brandt
Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Lisette Model
Helen Levitt
Wright Morris
Harold Edgerton

Chapter 14: Photography and the Halftone

Pictures and Printers Ink

The Photo Magazine

John Heartfield

The Separation of Art and Commerce: Advertising and Fashion

Lejaren à Hiller
Nickolas Muray
Cecil Beaton
Horst P. Horst
Martin Munkacsi
Alexey Brodovitch
Irving Penn
Richard Avedon
Philippe Halsman
Yousuf Karsh
Arnold Newman



War Reportage

Robert Capa
William Eugene Smith
Cornell Capa
Don McCullin
Larry Burrows
Eddie Adams

The New Subjective Journalism

Mary Ellen Mark
Sebastião Salgado

Bytes and Halftones

Chapter 15: The Atomic Age

Ansel Adams

The Surrealistic Metaphor

Clarence John Laughlin
Frederick Sommer
Val Telberg

The Photograph as Spirit

Minor White

Photo Education as Self-Expression

Harry Callahan
Aaron Siskind

Family of Man

Photography and Alienation

Robert Frank
William Klein
Mario Giacomelli

Making a Big Jump

Henry Holmes Smith
Richard Hamilton
Wallace Berman

The Subjective Documentary

Robert Doisneau
Roy DeCarava
Eliot Porter

The Terror of Riches

Chapter 16: New Frontiers: Expanding Boundaries

Structuralism: Reading a Photograph

The Found Image: The Beginnings of Postmodernism

Robert Rauschenberg

The Rise of Pop Art

William Burroughs
Andy Warhol
Marshall McLuhan

Challenging the Code

Art Sinsabaugh
Syl Labrot

The Social Landscape

Garry Winogrand
Lee Friedlander
Diane Arbus

New Journalism

Bruce Davidson
Danny Lyon

Multiple Points of View

Duane Michals
Nathan Lyons
Ray Metzker
Jerry Uelsmann
Robert Heinecken

The Rapid Growth of Photographic Education

Chapter 17: Changing Realities

Alternative Visions

Robert Fichter
Sonia Landy Sheridan
Thomas Barrow
William Larson

Turning the Straight Photograph on Itself

Ken Josephson
Joseph Jachna
Barbara Crane

Personal Accounts: Documentary Fiction

Ralph Eugene Meatyard
Les Krims
Lucas Samaras
Ralph Gibson
Larry Clark
Michael Lesy
Eugene Richards

The Snapshot

Emmet Gowin
Judy Dater
Bill Owens

Post-Structuralism/New Topographics

Edward Ruscha
Lewis Baltz
Robert Adams

The Rephotographic Survey Project/Time Changes

Color Rising

William Eggleston
Joel Meyerowitz

Artists’ Books

Reconfiguring Information

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen

Critical Writing

Chapter 18: Thinking about Photography

Conceptual Art: The Act of Choosing

Nam June Paik
John Baldessari

Performance Art

Bruce Nauman
Arnulf Rainer
Anselm Keifer
Gilbert and George
William Wegman

A Return to Typologies

Bernhard and Hilla Becher
Robert Cumming


Bart Parker
Paul Berger

Deconstructing Myths

Richard Prince
Sherrie Levine

Michael Mandel and Larry Sultan

Barbara Kruger
Victor Burgin

Gender Issues

Judith Golden
Cindy Sherman
Eileen Cowin
Laurie Simmons


James Casebere
Sandy Skoglund
Olivia Parker
Joel-Peter Witkin
Patrick Nagatani and Andrée Tracey

Altering Time and Space

Jan Dibbets

Eve Sonneman

Lew Thomas
Hollis Frampton and Marion Faller
Mike Mandell
Barbara Kasten
David Hockney
Michael Spano
Holly Roberts
Doug and Mike Starn

Investigating the Body

Andres Serrano
Robert Mapplethorpe
John Coplans
David Wojnarowicz
Nan Goldin
Sally Mann

Multiculturalism: Exploring Identity

Dinh Q. Lê
Jeffrey Henson Scales
Stephen Marc
Guerrilla Girls
Jo Spence
Terry Dennett
Annette Messager
Jolene Rickard
Clarissa Sligh
Carrie Mae Weems
Lorna Simpson
Krzystof Wodiczko

The Digital Future

Nancy Burson
Tyrone Georgiou
Pedro Meyer
Philip Lorca diCorcia
Jeff Wall

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