Explorers and Entrepreneurs behind the Camera
Wolff, Gregor (ed.)
Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, 2015, 168 pp.
The images presented in this volume, taken from the holdings of the Ibero-American Institute (IAI), date back to the early phase of photography – more specifically from 1856 to 1939 – and were taken in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Peru.
The order of the essays more or less follows the historical development of photography and traces an arc from early studio photographs and expedition and travel photography to images that documented early film productions. This publication also maps out the technological development of photography from the middle of the 19th century to the start of the 20th century.
One of aims of this publication is to present the different types of photographers in their historical contexts. Many of these photographers were commercial photographers who owned one or several photo studios. They generally made their livings by selling their images and portrait photography.
A second key group are the scientific expedition photographers. They embarked on journeys lasting many months and covered thousands of kilometers, often contending with extreme conditions, such as rowing through the Amazon tropical rainforest. Their photographic expeditions were ground-breaking achievements. Working in the early days of photography, they took a whole host of heavy technical equipment on their trips, such as photographic glass plates, mobile photo laboratories, chemicals and darkroom tents, and needed numerous assistants to do their work.
This volume brings together authors who have spent the last ten years conducting research and publishing papers on the IAI’s image archive. We would like to thank them for their invaluable insights on the materials and for all of their hard work in helping us to identify the historical photographs. Their essays not only examine the lives and works of the photographers, but also put the images into their historical contexts and are a source of inspiration for future research projects. The authors also provide information on photographs housed in other archives, with the aim of making this volume a starting point for further research.