Workers and Consumers: The Photographic Industry 1860-1950

Workers and Consumers

Locations: De Montfort University, Leicester, UK
Two Day Conference 24-25 June 2013

registration is now closed for this event

The history of photography has largely been dominated by concerns about aesthetic production and its political framings. Such ‘art historical’ approaches have marginalised the study of the economic base of the medium manifested through a developing photographic industry, its related trades and its mass consumers. Work is now emerging in this field, scattered across a number of disciplines: history, anthropology and history of science in particular. While there has been extensive research on both the politics and the affective qualities of popular photography, family albums, for instance, the missing component in the analysis is often a detailed and empirically informed understanding of the social and economic conditions of product development, labour forces, marketing and consumer demand. This two-day conference aims to bring together a critical mass of research in this area, to explore the state of play in this overlooked but crucial aspect of history of photography, and to suggest new directions for research in the economic, business and industrial history of photography. The conference will explore the period 1860-1950: from the rise of a clearly defined photographic industry, which had a profound effect on the practices and thus social functions of photography, to the expansion of mass colour technologies.

Opening Keynote Speaker: Professor Steve Edwards (Open University) Working Lives in Photography