history of portrait photography

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  1. 1. PORTRAITPHOTOGRAPHYFrom the Victorians to the present dayInformation and Activities for Secondary Teachers of Art and PhotographyJohn FrenchLord Snowdon,vintage bromide print, 1957NPG P809 SNOWDON / Camera Press
  2. 2. Information and Activities for Secondary Teachers of Art and PhotographyContentsIntroduction 3Discussion questions 4Wide Angle1. Technical beginnings and early photography Technical beginnings5 Early photography 8 Portraits on light sensitive paper 11 The Carte-de-visite and the Album172. Art and photography; the wider context Art and portrait photography 20 Photographic connections 27 Technical developments and publishing32Zoom 1. The photographic studio 362. Contemporary photographic techniques533. Self image: Six pairs of photographic self-portraits63Augustus Edwin John; ConstantinBrancusi; Frank Owen DobsonUnknown photographer,bromide press print, 1940sNPG x20684Teachers Resource Portrait PhotographyNational Portrait Gallery
  3. 3. 3/69Information and Activities for Secondary Teachers of Art and PhotographyIntroductionThis resource is for teachers of art and photography A and AS level, and it focusesprincipally on a selection of the photographic portraits from the Collection of theNational Portrait Gallery, London which contains over a quarter of a million images.This resource aims to investigate the wealth of photographic portraiture and toexamine closely the effect of painted portraits on the technique of photographyinvented in the nineteenth century.This resource was developed by the Art Resource Developer in the LearningDepartment in the Gallery, working closely with staff who work with thePhotographs Collection to produce a detailed and practical guide for working withthese portraits. The material in this resource can be used in the classroom or inconjunction with a visit to the National Portrait Gallery and as follow up materialpost-visit.There are two main parts to this teachers resource, part one: WIDE ANGLE andpart two: ART and PHOTOGRAPHY and a further three in-depth studies of specificaspects of the genre called ZOOM. All four sections can be downloaded separately.All look at photographic portraits in depth and comprise: eproductions of the portraitsR ontextual informationC uidance in the understanding of the history of photography and its role inGsociety iscussion points for students to examine portraits in detailD elated activitiesR urther related photographic web linksFThe contextual information provides background material for teachers that caninform the students work as required. The discussion points give questions andintroduce concepts for the teacher to ask a group or class it may be necessaryto pose additional supplementary questions to achieve the full depth of meaning.Students should pose their own questions, too. It is recommended that thesediscussions are carried out first when tackling a new portrait or photographicexhibition.The historical and aesthetic information in this resource relates to the range andcontent specified in the requirements for the study of Photography at A level.Students should be encouraged to generate their own enquiry topics and maketheir own photographic portrait studies using the portraits in this resource, as wellas attempting the projects suggested here. The activities in this resource provideopportunities to make links between photography and art. In both subjects, thefocus is on the key concepts of creativity, cultural understanding and making.Other activities link critical thinking about identities, how images relate tosocial, historical and cultural contexts and how ideas, feelings and meanings areconveyed through portrait photography and ultimately how they shape our history.All images are National Portrait Gallery, London unless otherwise stated.Teachers Resource Portrait Photography National Portrait Gallery
  4. 4. 4/69Information and Activities for Secondary Teachers of Art and PhotographyQuestions about a portrait photographUse the following questions to help your group appreciate and analyseaspects of portrait photography: ow big is the image?H s it in hard copy or on screen? (analogue or digital?)I s it in colour or black and white?IWork out how the subject was lit; is there any strong directional lighting?Where from?Is there more than one person in the portrait? s it a portrait showing the sitters head, head and shoulders, are theyIseated or standing? re their hands in view? How do they hold them?A oes the subject look directly at the viewer or are they turned away or in profile?D hat sort of background is there?W s it an interior or exterior view?I s it an urban or a country setting?I hen do you think that the photograph was taken?W hy do you think that the photograph was taken?W hat future purpose might it have?W s it worth anything? Financially or sentimentally?I ould there be any other sorts of values attached to this photograph?C o you think that it took much time, money and energy to make?D o you think that the photographer needed to be creative to take the portrait?D o you like or dislike this portrait photograph? Where was the photographerDpositioned in relationship to the sitter? ocal point: what is the focus of this image? Is there more than one?FTeachers Resource Portrait PhotographyNational Portrait Gallery
  5. 5. 36/69ZOOM 1.The photographic studioA resource for teachers of A and AS level Photography, focusing on aselection of images of photographic studios from the Collection of theNational Portrait Gallery.Aims ntroduce the concept of a photographic studio.Iiscover how the development of photography has changed the typeDof studio used by professionals.onsider the importance of the geographical location of the studioCin business terms.Objectivesncourage a critical analysis of historical photographs in order to gainEperiod information.earn more about specific photographic techniques by studying images of studios.Lain some insight into the lives of the photographers who worked in these studios.GAngus McBeanAngus McBean,bromide postcard print, 1965NPG x125283 estate of Angus McBeanTeachers Resource Portrait PhotographyNational Portrait Gallery
  6. 6. 37/69Zoom 1. The photographic studioCamille SilvyView of four workers in the processingback yard of Camille Silvys photographicstudio, 38 Porchester Terrace,daybook number 9140Camille Silvy,albumen print, c.1862NPG Ax58962The same image reproduced onpage 244 of Silvy Daybrook, Vol.7.These daybooks were large bookswith numbered reference imagesstuck into themCamille Silvyc.1862NPG Ax58962-Ax56965Previously a junior diplomat in Paris, Camille Silvy established processing photographs. As you can see from the images,himself as one of the leading portrait photographers inthe processing of the photographic plates (in those daysVictorian London. He moved to London in 1859 and boughtnegatives were created onto glass) was done outside usingCaldesi and Montecchis studio on Porchester Terrace,natural light. The house had originally been built in 1829/30Bayswater, a smart building with substantial outhouses for for the painter John Linnell (1792-1882).Teachers Resource Portrait Photography National Portrait Gallery
  7. 7. 38/69 Zoom 1. The photographic studioCamille SilvySilvy improved the accomodation and it became renowned for its tastefulfurnishings and elaborately painted backgrounds. Except for Queen Victoria, hephotographed all of the royal family of the time and most of the British aristocracy.In 1864, when he was twenty-six years old, he had forty employees. He keptdaybooks; visual records of portrait sittings, with details of each sitter, the date theportrait was taken, and a sample file print stuck into the book (see image). Someof these albums are now in the National Portrait Gallerys archives. In 1868 heretired due to ill health, thought to have been provoked by the toxic photographicchemicals he worked with, he consequently returned to France.View of the front of the houseCamille Silvy,albumen print, c.1862NPG Ax58944View of the house as shown in theday book reference image number9141Camille Silvy,albumen print, c.1862NPG Ax58963Teachers Resource Portrait PhotographyNational Portrait Gallery
  8. 8. 39/69 Zoom 1. The photographic studioCamille Silvy Activity Discussion pointsThink about the logistics of running a large studio. Discuss what might be the difficulties and advantagesof running such a business.Silvys studio was in Porchester Terrace in west London. Discuss the type of location that you wouldchoose were you to be running a photographic portrait studio today. ProjectsTry and find pictures of other Victorian photographic studios to compare with that of Silvy.Make your own day book and fill in details of five sitters, as well as pasting in a reference image of them.You could make these fictitious.Teachers Resource Portrait PhotographyNational Portrait Gallery
  9. 9. 40/69Zoom 1. The photographic studioCamille SilvyView of the back of the house,with seven people on thebalcony, and around twelveoutside at the back in theprinting area.Camille Silvy,albumen print, c.1862NPG Ax58945Detail of outside showing printsdrying on racks and workers intheir shirt sleeves.Camille Silvy,albumen print, c.1862NPG Ax58964Silvy employed forty workers in his factory-style studio. It photographs are here reduced by fire, and the silver uponwas described like this: One room is found to be full of clerks them is thus recovered. One large apartment is appropriatedkeeping the books, for at the West End credit must be given; to baths in which the cartes de visite are immersed, and ain another scores of employees are printing from the samefeminine clatter of tongues directs us to the room in whichnegative. A large building has been erected for the purposethe portraits are finally corded and packed up. Each portraitin the back garden. In a third room are all the chemicals fortaken is posted in a book and numbered