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Camera-Centered Histories of Photography

Call for papers & Conference

Abstracts due: July 31st, 2022
Conference: December 2nd, 2022

Event Info

Abstracts due July 31, 2022
Conference Friday December 2, 2022

What does our understanding of photographic technology tell us about photography? Scholars often frame the study of cameras through a media archaeology lens, such as Peter Buse’s examination of the Polaroid archives to contemplate what it contributes to our understanding of the ubiquitous instant photograph, or Jonathan Crary, whose examination of the “observer” in Victorian viewing evinces questions about modernity. Yet others neglect the role of the camera outright. This is not a disingenuous move; many photographers resent people asking about the device they use, because the question implies that the equipment, not the eye and mind, provided the skill. Photography’s relationship to its technology is equal parts intrinsic and fraught.

This one-day conference interrogates what photo history looks like when we foreground the technology that made the images. We invite scholars and artists to address the place of the camera in photographic histories. Themes may include (but are not limited to):

  • The relationship between the camera and image
  • The place of digital image-making in relation to technology-centric concerns
  • Case studies that foreground the camera with regard to a specific photographer/image-maker -Social histories that foreground photographic technologies
  • Media archaeology approaches to cameras and photographic technology
    Business, legal, or advertising histories about camera manufacturers
  • The role of patents in the advancement of photographic technologies
    Design histories relating to cameras

The conference will be held as a hybrid live event, on-site at the California Museum of Photography (Riverside, California) and livecast via Zoom. Papers can be presented in-person or online.

The conference will include a keynote address by Dr Michael Pritchard, author of A History of Photography in Fifty Cameras (2014) and a tour of the Larry S. Pierce American field camera collection by collector Larry Pierce.

Please submit abstracts of approximately 350 words for 20-minute presentations to Leigh Gleason, Director of Collections (California Museum of Photography/UCR ARTS) at


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