Pinhole Cameras, Light-Tight Boxes

Posted by on Jan 30 2013 | Photography

Entrance Gallery, George Eastman House

Take a look at a handful of the pinhole cameras (and their matching image) from our Camera Obscura exhibit:
 

Stereo Pinhole Camera

Stereo Pinhole Camera Image

 

Dry Plate Pinhole Camera

Dry Plate Pinhole Camera Image

8x10 Pretzel Can Pinhole Camera

8x10 Pretzel Can Pinhole Camera Image

4x5 Film Box Pinhole Camera

Robot Cam Pinhole Image

 

Speed Graphic Pinhole Camera

Speed Graphic Pinhole Image


 

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Memento Mori – Postmortem Photography

Posted by on Dec 11 2012 | Photography

Meghan Jordan is a fourth year fine art photography major at RIT currently interning with our Department of Photographs. In the future she hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in the area of photographic history to further educate people of the medium’s importance.
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Unidentified Photographer. [Woman sitting in high-backed chair, holding deceased child] ca. 1860. Daguerreotype with applied color.

Since beginning my internship in the Department of Photographs five months ago, multiple people have asked me what I have been working on. The majority of the time, my response of “a postmortem collection” has ignited looks of bewilderment and disgust. Even after an explanation, friends and family are still confused as to why one would spend their time with such a collection.

From its birth, photography has been used to preserve moments in one’s life, so why not death as well? In the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, it would not be uncommon to find a postmortem photograph on a mantel or in a family album. So why today are people so uncomfortable with such an idea?

Perhaps an association between death and gore in the media casts a negative light on postmortem imagery. Television, movies, and news often show bloody corpses and gruesome deaths; but memorial photographs are quite the opposite. In 2010, the George Eastman House acquired the Walter Johnson Collection – one of the largest of such collections in North America, containing over 1,000 postmortem and memorial objects. The photographs are not morbid or grotesque; they are beautiful, emotional images that commemorate the life of the lost.


Unidentified Photographer. [Young woman holding a deceased infant] ca. 1850. Daguerreotype.

In viewing the collection, one can see that along with society’s attitude, memorial photography has evolved throughout the centuries. Early memorial photography depicted the deceased subject in their homes or in the photographer’s studios. Studio owners of the mid-19th century openly advertised and discussed their practice of memorial photography. The well-known firm of Southworth & Hawes of Boston often published advertisements and descriptions of their techniques in professional trade journals, “The way I did it was just to have them dressed and laid on the sofa. Just lay them down as if they were asleep. […] Then place your camera and take your pictures just as they would look in life, as if standing before you.” (1873, Josiah Southworth)


Unidentified Photographer, REMEMBER ME. ca. 1890. Gelatin or collodion printing out paper print.

Lee McDowell (American, Active 1883 – 1897) AUNT ELLA MAE (HUNTLEY) KEETON. ca. 1895. Gelatin silver print.

After the 1880s, trade journals rarely published articles on the matter, photographers ceased advertising their services, and memorial photographers turned to re-photographing photographs of the deceased often surrounded by personal possessions and flowers, some conveying a symbolic meaning. As cameras became more accessible to the general population, families of the deceased often preferred to take these photos themselves, allowing greater control over who could see the resulting images.


Hughes Studio (American, active ca. 1940 – 1960) [Funeral floral arrangements and open casket.] ca. 1945. Gelatin silver print.

Currently, the openness and visibility of postmortem photography has largely decreased. However, organizations assisting with the mourning process, such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, and contemporary artists such as Andres Serrano continue to make and circulate these photographs as both therapy and art.

 



 
 

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Cinema is an Event

Posted by on Dec 07 2012 | Motion Pictures

We are excited to announce the Dryden Theatre renovation! We’ll be talking lots more and giving updates in the coming days…

 

 

 

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What a Night, George Eastman House Gala 2012

Posted by on Nov 27 2012 | Photography

Last night was an incredible evening of light & motion in New York City.  We celebrated our honorees, and proudly introduced our new director. A big thanks to all that helped make the gala possible, we could not have done it without you. We’d like to extend congratulations to each of our honorees.

We premiered this short during the gala which explains, educates and encourages those to remember: Who We Are.
 

 

 

 

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The Casual Cats Of Our Collection

Posted by on Aug 16 2012 | Exhibitions, Photography, Student Work


The following is a note from PPCM graduate student, Ross Knapper.

I’d like to share my experience from the PPCM program, as an intern and explore just a few of the many interesting objects in the vast Eastman House collection. The following is a small group of cat photographs. They are a great example of the incredible diversity available in the collection and not only show a variety of photographic processes and formats, but also illustrate a range of the different ways photographs have been used.

With something as simple as the subject of cats there are albumen cabinet cards, stereographs, and cdv’s; collotype prints; collodion POP; gelatin silver prints; gelatin glass negatives; photomechanical reproduction, and three color carbro prints, with uses ranging from advertising photographs by Nickolas Muray; postcards; Kodak amateur photographs and vernacular images; taxidermy photographs such as the album by Luis Soler Pujol; and a photograph from Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion series.

The goal at the PPCM program is to educate ourselves with photographic materials and processes along with photographic history and the social and cultural conditions of its production and reception, so that we can better understand, care for, and manage photographic collections. As even this very small, seemingly casual group of photographs shows, Eastman House provides an incredible opportunity for this type of research and education.

Enjoy the show!

McCall Magazine, Homemaking Cover, Cat & Kittens Date: 1942? Photo Credit: Nickolas Muray Property of: George Eastman House Parents Magazine, Girl with Cat Date: ca. 1945? Photo Credit: Nickolas Muray Property of: George Eastman House

Cats and Kittens Date: ca. 1900 Photo Credit: William M. Van der Weyde Property of: George Eastman House

Taxidermy cat with visible skeletal structure Date: ca. 1920? Photo Credit: Luis Soler Pujol Property of: George Eastman House

Cat; trotting; change to gallop From the series: Animal Locomotion Date: ca. 1884-1887 Photo Credit: Eadweard J. Muybridge Property of: George Eastman House

Ruined interior, Great Chicago Fire, image of cat montaged into foreground Date: 1871? Photo Credit: J.H. Abbott Property of: George Eastman House

Cat watching bird in cage Date: ca.1880 Photo Credit: Art Photo & View Co. Property of: George Eastman House

Cat family being photographed Date: ca. 1920 Photo Credit: Max Kunzli Property of: George Eastman House

 

Eastman House’s graduate program in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management (PPCM) is offered in conjunction with Ryerson University.

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