This Month in the History of Photography

The following events occurred this month in the History of Photography: [1]

According to historian Naomi Rosenblum, the first instruction manuals to make daguerreotypes arrived in the United States from England in September 1839, shortly after the announcement of the French Government’s acquisition of the new invention.

On September 1, 2015, Takuma Nakahira, pioneer of modern Japanese photography and co-founder of the photography magazine Provoke, died at age 77. Nakahira was born in Tokyo in 1938. He graduated from the Spanish Department of Tokyo University. In the 1960s, he became a full-time photographer but he was also a writer, critic, and political activist. In Provoke he advocated for a style known as are, bure, boke, (grainy, blurry and out-of-focus), a style that questioned whether realism in photography was possible. In 1969, Nakahira’s photographic work received the Newcomer Award from the Japanese Photography Critics’ Association.

One hundred and twenty eight years ago, the Kodak brand was born in the United States and soon became synonym of photography for more than a century. On September 4, 1888, George Eastman formally registered the word “Kodak” as his company’s trademark. About the peculiar name, Eastman wrote to the British Patent Office: “This is not a foreign name or word; it was constructed by me to serve a definite purpose. It has following merits as a trademark word: First. It is short. Second. It is not capable of mispronunciation. Third. It does not resemble anything in the art and cannot be associated with anything in the art except the Kodak.”

On September 5, 1933, Bruce Davidson was born in Chicago. Davidson is considered one of America’s most influential photographers. He studied photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University. In 1961, he received a Guggenheim fellowship to document the civil-rights movement. In 1970, his most well known work East 100 Street was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His photographs have been shown in numerous institutions in the United States and abroad. Since 1958 he has been a full member of Magnum Photos.

American Photographer Nan Goldin was born September 12, 1953. Goldin is most famous for her long-term visual diary The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Her work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions and two major retrospectives, one organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and by the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In 2007, she received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award and she was recipient of the Lucie Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Portrait in 2014.

Joel Peter Witkin was born September 13, 1939. Witkin’s photographs have been described as grotesque and morbid. His darkly imaginative vision often references other artists in the history of art and the history of photography. From Coubert to Etienne Jules Marey, Witkin explores different elements in other artist’s works and incorporates them in his own oeuvre. His photographs have been exhibited internationally at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, the Baudoin Lebon Gallery in Paris, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, among many others.

Master American Photographer Lewis Hine was born September 26, 1874 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Hine graduated from New York University and began graduate studies in sociology at Columbia University. As a photographer, his career began in 1905 with a series of pictures taken on Ellis Island. By 1908, Hine quit his job as a New York City school teacher and became a full-time investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee where he worked for sixteen years. Hine traveled around the United States photographing child workers in factories, mills, and mines. His powerful images of working children exposed the devastating effects of child labor and stirred America’s conscience. By the time of his death in 1940, social reform photography had become not only an accepted method of documenting but also was appreciated as an art form.

[1] Image Credit. 11:00 A.M. Monday, May 9th, 1910. Newsies at Skeeter’s Branch, Jefferson near Franklin. They were all smoking. Location: St. Louis, Missouri-Artist: Lewis Hine (American, 1874–1940)-Date: ca. 1910 -Medium: Gelatin Silver Print- 1970.727.3.

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