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Tag: photography

Painted Backgrounds for Turn of the Century Photographers

They’re all over social media – frames, filters, and special camera effects on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms to help you add pizzazz to your selfies and other photos. But is anything really new these days? We found something that may be the grandfather (or at least great uncle) of social media filters – hand-painted backgrounds for photography studios dating from the early 1900s.

Swahili Coast: Exploration by French Captain Charles Guillain, 1846-1848. Part 3, Encounters and Partnerships

The blog post, last of three, was written by Xavier Courouble, research assistant for Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean, an online exhibition part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art’s Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa.

Charles Guillain’s three-volume work, Documents sur l’histoire, la géographie, et le commerce de l’Afrique orientale and the accompanying atlas folio of lithographs and map engravings, Voyage à la côte orientale d’Afrique give an account of travels undertaken in a pre-colonial context, where European explorers politically and logistically depended on the African inhabitants and sovereigns they encountered in Africa. The interactions experienced by Guillain and his African counterparts allowed for a reaffirmation of exploration as an encounter and a partnership rather than as an unequal confrontation constructing insurmountable otherness.

American Photography in Living Color

colorWhen working a in a library, sometimes you come across a book that demands your attention. I was recently captivated by Color: American Photography Transformed, a gorgeous catalogue from Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Nearly every page features large plates of snapshots, advertisements, and artworks. Each seems as fresh and vibrant as they must have appeared to their first viewers.