Parsons School of Design

History of Photography PLVS 2300 D ; CRN 2211
[Fall 2017] [Tues. 3:50 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 6 East 16th Street Room: 600]

Associate Professor Terry Towery

Course Description:
This course highlights practitioners, technological developments, and themes that have shaped the story of photography since its conception in the early 19th century. The course offers an overview of the history of photography and its relationships with other visual mediums and also considers the roles of photography within radical movements of visual culture and artistic practice.  The ramifications of photographys histories on our understanding of contemporary photography will be a constant theme throughout, brought to the fore in the final weeks of this course.
Course Objectives:
This course will give the student a survey of photography's historical evolution and it current impact on society. The student will become conversant in the major styles and technologies of photography and how those have impacted culture.

Learning Outcomes:
By the successful completion of this course, students will:

  • Develop familiarity with the canon f hte history of photography

  • Demonstrate familiarity with the most important technical and art historical concepts in the history of photography

  • Demonstrate ability to navigate through the terrain of photography galleries and museum collections in NYC

Assignments and participation:
The assignments for this course are aimed to develop skills in researching and discussing key moments in the history of photography.  Students are expected to read and digest the weekly reading in order to be able to participate fully in the class discussions.  Students should also expect to research and give short presentations on key figures in the history of photography.

Assessable Tasks

Demonstrate an understanding of the basic canon of the history of photography.

Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the variety of processes photo based artists have used over the past 250 years.

Demonstrate the ability to synthesize and respond to historical objects through your own practice.

Textbook: Recommended
Seizing the Light: A Social History of Photography -- by Robert Hirsch
Any Edition ISBN: 978-0-07-337921-0 Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages Recommended
Additonal recommended Readings:
History of Photography by Beaumont Newhall
A World History of Photography by Naomi Rosenblum
Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett
Photography a Critical Introduction and The Photography Reader by Liz Wells (Editor)
On Photography by Susan Sontag
Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, Richard Howard (Translator)

Basic Critical Theory for Photographers by Ashley la Grange
Classic Essays on Photography by Alan Trachtenberg
Photography Theory Edited by James Elkins

10% Oral Presentations

Choose a subject or topic related to the course and prepare a 5 minute 20 slide presentation on said topic or subject.

15% Visual Response Exercises AKA VRE

Throughout the semester you will be assigned to go and see actual work in galleries and museums around Manhattan. You are to make something that is a direct response to your experience with that exhibition. The object can be, but does not have to be, a photograph, painting, drawing, performance,very short video, etc. You should take particular note of the difference between the original and a reproduction. We will discuss these in class with the rest of the group.

Final Grade Calculation:

Reading and participation in class discussions   10%
- Visual Response Exercises 15%
- Think Piece 10%
- map 5%

- Midterm exam 20%
- Final Exam 20%
- Final written text 10%

- Oral Presentations 10%

Please be prompt for class.  Anyone arriving more than fifteen minutes past the start of class will be counted as absent.  Three lates equal one absence.  Three absences constitute a failure for the entire course.
Homework assignments must be ready for grading on time.  Every class an assignment is late will count as a full grade markdown. If you are absent, I must see your assignment the following class. All of the work you submit for grading must be your own.
Papers: do not plagarize your work. The bulk of your papers must be your own words/thoughts. You may quote source material, but this may not comprise more than 20% of your paper. You must provide footnotes and a bibliography if you reference any outside sources. If I catch you plagarizing, you will automatically fail the entire course.
***Please send me an email at with your name and course for which you are registered so that I have a way of contacting you if necessary.  

10% Think Piece Paper (Printed and Turned In)

You MUST go to the NYPL, the NY historical society or any Photo archive and do physical research on a photographic object.

Write a short (more than 1 but less than 2 double-spaced typewritten pages) “Think Piece” about one particular photograph. The photograph must be one from the 19th Century (made before 1900), but you are otherwise free to select any image you would like to write about. Examine the photograph carefully and write about what you see and what the photograph
makes you think about. Some (but not all) things you could consider are:
• What does the photograph tell you about the photographer?
• What does it tell you about the subject of the image?
• Does the technical quality of the image (or lack thereof) help or hinder the success of the photograph?
• Where did the photographer stand to make this picture?
• How does his or her camera position affect the outcome of the image?
• Why does this picture interest you?
In short, tell me what you think about the image in your own words.

10% Final Written paper/multimedia project

You must choose a subject for your resesarch by the 6th week of class and formall propose that topic to me including the direction the research will go in and an outline. The subject can be a photogrpaher, a concept or a realted topc to photogrpahy. We will discuss this further in class.

Learning portfolio:
Please make snapshots of your Visual Response exercises and upload them to your “learning portfolio”.



Readings and Links



Course Introduction - Pre Photography to Photography

Define Photography
Deconstruct HIStory

Lecture on pre and early photographic technologies leading to commercially available cameras, Camera Obscura, Lucida, Tableau Vivant, Hockney book, Magic Lantern Slide shows, Vermeer, Daguerre's theater, Wedgewood, Niepce, FOx-Talbot and Daguerre

Wiki History of photo
heliographic process
Tims Vermeer
the First photograph 
Dags at the Met
Reclaimed Light
Southworth and Hawes
Antiquarian Avante garde

Charles Baudelaire, On Photography, from The Salon of 1859 and

First Visual response exercise VRE
Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends
Due in 2 weeks

Early Technologies

Daguerrotypmania, Fox Talbot's process, Wet collodian, Albumen, etc.

I will bring in samples of different types of early photo processes.

the lantern slide, early moving image tools zoetrope etc.

Photo processes from GEH
Getty Photo Processes
Click Photography changes everything
Timeline of photo technology
Fox Talbot Archive
First 100 years of phot video

Geoffrey Batchen, ‘Identity’, ‘Conception’, Burning with Desire, p 3-53


Landscape & Exploration photography
The Sublime to the American West to the Rephotographic society

photographers including Timothy O'Sullivan, Carleton E Watkins, Francis Frith, Felice Beato, Nadar, Gustave le Gray, Roger Fenton, F64 group, New Topographics,


Frith exploratïon photo subscription

Timothy O'Sullivan
Carleton E Watkins
Hidden Moms
Kodak Brownie
Saul Leiter Color
Charles MArville

Read all three of Errol Morris’s articles about Roger Fenton

ART Photography and the photo secession -

photographers and themes including The Linked ring, Alfred Stieglitz, Camera Work and Camera Notes magazines, gallery 291, Edward Steichen, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Frederick Evans,  gum bichromate and platinum processes, Peter Henry Emerson, Henry Peach Robinson, Clarence H White. Moderninsm, Steichen to Stieglitz to Strand, Julia Margaret Cameron.


Photography as Fact -

photographers and themes include:
WPA, Berenice Abbot
s scientific illustration images, Marey, Muybridge, stereoscopic, August Sander,Atget, photographs, Jacob Riis, Lewis Hine.carte-de-visite, Nasa imagery, The Visible Human video.

WPA and documentary, Photography and science, Muybridge Nasa

Berenice Abbot
Muybridge Documentary
World's oldest films



Photography as Fiction

Fashion, Spirit photography, Proof of Fairies,


WW1 composite Submit a map showing the relationships between your own creative practices and the history of photography. You can consider individual photographers and artists (not just photographers included in this course) and photographic movements, the aim is that you begin the see connection between your ownwork and the precedents evidentin photo history. You "map" can be interpreted with a broad brush, consider information design.



Modernism and the Avante Garde

relevant photographers and themes include: Bauhaus, Surrealism, Dada, Man Ray, Hannah Hoch, Alexander Rodchenko, Laslo Moholy Nagy, Albert Renger-Patzsch, rayograph, solarization, photomontage, John Heartfield, Brassai.

PostVisualization Uelsmann
MAn Ray
Duane michals

Krauss - the Originality of the Avante Garde and other Modernist myths

Hal Foster et al., Art Since 1900, p154-159, p 168-178, p 185-195, p 209-2011, p 232-237, p 240-249, p 271-275

Moholy Nagy, Man Ray, Alexander Rodchenko, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Photography in the Modern Era: European Documents and Critical Writing, p 52-54, p 104-105, p 132-139, p 239-242, p 256-263


On the Road and on the Street photography

relevant photographers and themes include:
Robert Frank, Winogrand, PApageorge, MoMA embrace of street photographers, Martin Parr, Shabazz, why I hate HONY, Saul Leiter, NY Photo league, The New York School of Photography, Walker Evans, Danny Lyon, Martha Rosler, Wendy Ewald, Susan Meiselas, Bruce Davidson, Mary Ellen Mark, Jim Goldberg, Henri Cartier Bresson, Diane Arbus, Sid Grossman, Helen Levitt, Lisette Model, David Vestal, Weegee, Lee Friedlander, Gary Winogrand, William Eggleston, Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, Boogie, Alec Soth.

Frank’s contacts

Diane Arbus,


the experimental impulse the sixites to now

Uelsmann, Fichter, Heinecken, dada russian constructivism montage stuff, Rayograms, Bragagglia, the multiple image Jerry, Duane Michals, Heinecken, Hockney, muybridge, , NJ Paik, artists that use photography Warhol, Rauschenberg, Bacon, MAtthew Barney, Kiefer, Gerhard Richter, Tress


Oral Presentatations


conceptualism to post modernism to the Dusseldorf academy

Performance, Clement Greenberg, earthArt,


Chelsea or museum visit


Art since lunch

Dusseldorf academy, Relational Aesthetics Hennessy Youngman The Photograph as Social Practice, Selfie culture,
Suggested Photographers to discuss: Lucas Blalock, Kate Steciw, Joshua Citarella, Daniel Shea, Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry, Mariah Robertson, Matthew Brandt, Rinko Kawauchi, Torbjorn Rodland, Oliver Chanarin & Adam Broomberg, Shannon Ebner, Carter Mull, Jason Fulford, Daniel Gordon



Final Exam

This Calendar is tentative and may need to be changed to accomodate unforseen circumstances.



Photo History Links and resources:
Luminous lint
Library of congress Prints and Photographs
Life Magazine Archive
Youtube channel BBC The Genius of Photography
PBS Shows
Kodak History of photo video
Search the Met collection
iPhoto Central
Eastman House
NYPL pictures
Jeff Curto Podcast
AD Coleman's Site
Luminous Lint
Photograph Magazine listings
Vintage Works
American Suburb X

10-most-expensive-photographs-in-the-world common participating institutions
Iconic images with the details removed 
A vernacular pghotography snapshot collector dealer
Milwaukee Art musum Color Rush 
AIPAD color 
George Eastman house/sets/
most-expensive-photographs-in-the-world common participating institutions
Iconic images with the details removed 


A vernacular pghotography snapshot collector dealer

Milwaukee Art musum Color Rush 

Additional Photo History readings:

"I'm Not Really a Photographer"
"On the Invention of Photographic Meaning" 1975
"The Directorial Mode Notes toward a Definition"
_After You, Dearest Photography
Alfred Stieglitz
Artist and Photographs
Berenice Abbott
Daybooks 1923-1930
Harry Callahan, Statement 1964
Harry Callahan
Helen Levitt
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Introduction to Avedon's "Portraits" 1976
Irving Penn
Leaflet, Written for the Los Angeles Museum 1934
Lee Friedlander's Nudes
Olivia Parker
Pictorial Photography
Seeing comes before words
Seeing Photographically
Social Photography
The Body Of Our Desire
The Decisive Moment 1952
Walker Evans
Walker Evans2

Accommodating Disabilities
Lehman College is committed to providing access to all programs and curricula to all students. Students with disabilities who may need classroom accommodations are encouraged to register with the Office of Student Disability Services. For more information, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services, Shuster Hall, Room 238, phone number, 718-960-8441.

The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and the Science Learning Center (SLC) The Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) and the Science Learning Center (SLC) are two of the tutoring centers on campus. The ACE provides appointment-based and drop-in tutoring in the humanities, social sciences, and writing, as well as general writing and academic skills workshops. The SLC provides drop-in tutoring for natural science courses. To obtain more information about the ACE and the SLC, please visit their website at, or please call the ACE at 718-960-8175, and the SLC at 718-960-7707.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Policy

Don't Cheat - don't steal - don't lie

Avoid cliches

All of the assignments must be completed by the date listed on your syllabus, as late work is not accepted in this course.

Classroom Specific Policies
In Class: Mute phones, no e-mailing, no social media, no surfing the net, No IMing, it is a tobacco free campus. No food or drink in the labs or classroom.

Checking your facebook/social media/email during class time isstrictly prohibited and a valid reason for me to dismiss you from class. This will count as an absence. Everyone around you knows you are not paying attention to the material including myself.

● Responsibility 
Students are responsible for all assignments, even if they are absent.  Late projects/papers, failure to complete the readings assigned for class discussion, and lack of preparedness for in-class discussions and presentations will jeopardize your successful completion of this course. 

● Participation 
Class participation is an essential part of class and includes: contributing meaningfully to class critiques and discussions, keeping up with reading, active participation in group work, and coming to class regularly and on time.  

Include statements important to the instructor such as use of cell phones, lateness, make-up exams, class participation, etc.

Papers: do not plagarize your work. The bulk of your papers must be your own words/thoughts. You may quote source material, but this may not comprise more than 20% of your paper. You must provide footnotes and a bibliography if you reference any outside sources. If I catch you plagarizing, you will automatically fail the entire course.

I rely on the MTA to get to work. If the trains arent running I can't get to class. Regardless of school policy. In rare instances, I may be delayed arriving to class.  If I have not arrived by the time class is scheduled to start, you must wait a minimum of thirty minutes for my arrival.  In the event that I will miss class entirely, a sign will be posted at the classroom indicating your assignment for the next class meeting. Alternatively, check your COLLEGE email account for any other information.

Grading Standards
A  [4.0; 96–100%]
Work of exceptional quality, which often goes beyond the stated goals of the course

A- [3.7; 91 –95%]
Work of exceptionally high quality

B+ [3.3; 86–90%]
Work of high quality that indicates substantially higher than average abilities

B  [3.0; 81–85%]
Very good work that satisfies the goals of the course

B- [2.7; 76–80%]
Good work

C+ [2.3; 71–75%]
Above-average work

C  [2.0; 66–70%]
Average work that indicates an understanding of the course material; passable
Satisfactory completion of a course is considered to be a grade of C or higher.

C- [1.7; 61–65%]
Passing work but below good academic standing

D  [1.0; 46–60%]
Below-average work that indicates a student does not fully understand the assignments;
Probation level though passing for credit

F  [0.0; 0–45%]
Failure, no credit

Grades of Incomplete
I do not give an I unless you are hospitalized or some other extreme unusual and extenuating circumstances. This grade is given for MEDICAL reasons. THere is a lot fo pressure on the faculty to NOT give I grades. I will not entertain a grade of I if you simply didnt get your work done. This mark is not given automatically but only upon the student’s request and at the discretion of the instructor. A Request for Incomplete must be accompanied by a medical doctor's note.

Seminal readings about photography that every photograper should be aware of:

1. Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, in “Illuminations” ed., Hannah Arendt

2. Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer”, in “Reflections” ed., Hannah Arendt

3. Roland Barthes, “The Rhetoric of the Image”, in “Image Music Text”

4. Roland Barthes, “The Photographic Message”, in “Image Music Text”

5. Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author” in “Image Music Text”

6. Roland Barthes, “Camera Lucida” Amazon

7. Baudrillard, “Simulacra and Simulation

7. Susan Sontag, “On Photography” Amazon

8. Susan Sontag “Regarding the Pain of Others” Amazon

9. Vilem Flusser, “Towards a Philosophy of Photography” Amazon

10. Michael Fried, “Art and Objecthood” Amazon

11. Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces: Heterotopias

12. Martha Rosler, “In, Around, and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography)” in “The Contest of Meaning”, ed., Richard Bolton

13. Deborah Bright, “Of Mother Nature and Marlboro Men: An Inquiry Into the Culture Meanings of Landscape Photography”, in “The Contest of Meaning”, ed., Richard Bolton

14. Allan Sekula, “The Body and the Archive” in “The Contest of Meaning”, ed., Richard Bolton (also in October, Winter 1986) Amazon

15. Allan Sekula, “Reading an Archive” from “Blasted Allegories”, ed., Brian Wallis

16. Christopher Phillips, “ The Judgment Seat of Photography” in “The Contest of Meaning”, ed., Richard Bolton Amazon

17. Walter Benjamin, “A Short History of Photography”, in “Classic Essays on Photography”, ed., Alan Trachtenberg

18. Andre Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image”, in “Classic Essays on Photography”, ed., Alan Trachtenberg

19. Siegfried Kracauer, “Photography” in “Classic Essays on Photography”, ed., Alan Trachtenberg

20. Hubert Damisch, “Five Notes for a Phenomenology of the Photographic Image” in “Classic Essays on Photography”, ed., Alan Trachtenberg Amazon

21. Craig Owens, “Photography En Abyme”, in “Beyond Recognition” Amazon

22. Craig Owens, “The Discourse of Others: Feminism and Postmodernism”, in “Beyond Recognition”

23. Douglas Crimp, “Pictures” October, Volume 8, 1979, also in “Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation”, ed., Brian Wallis

24. John Szarkowski, “Mirrors and Windows” Amazon

25. Rosalind Krauss, “Notes on the Index: Part 1 and Part 2” in “The Originality of the Avant – Garde and other Modernist Myths” Amazon

26. Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” in “Visual and Other Pleasures”

27. Jerry Uelsmann Post-Visualization

Hyperreality By Jean Baudrillard
Society of the Spectacle
Guy DeBord



You have a job as a student. That job is to come to class, be attentive, ask questions, keep your mind open to new ideas and fulfill assigned projects on time. Doing your job will assist you in being perceived as a serious student.

In an educational forum, it is always best to inform the professor in advance about problems with correct completion of an assigned project. When understood and anticipated, contingencies can often be handled easily.

All of the assignments must be completed by the date listed on your syllabus, as late work is not accepted in this course.

Lastly, learning is synthesis of ideas. Try to use the ideas presented in this class to your best advantage by putting them together with what you already know to produce high quality work. If you have problems, see me.

You are the one who will determine whether or not this course is a success for you. Take your work here seriously and you will learn things, have fun and enhance your GPA.



Photo history Links of Interest

Vintage cameras

Photo history

Real or fake vintage process


Photo history capa film controversy

Camera Work magazine PH Emerson video

The talks about fashion photo



Arthur Tress

Gowin. Carleton Watkins

Lewis Carroll

Carleton Watkins

Making a tintype

world’s first photoshopped image

blues sensitive films, greasepaint
Photo history