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A History of Photography in Fifty Cameras
by Michael Pritchard
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Cloth: 978-0-226-17641-3 | eISBN: 978-0-226-17011-4 | Paper: 978-0-226-17008-4
Library of Congress Classification TR250.P75 2014
Dewey Decimal Classification 771.309

The ubiquity of camera phones today has made us all photographers, and as these nano-devices attest, the history of photography, perhaps more so than any other art, is also a history of technology, one best revealed in the very vehicle that makes it possible—the camera.

Through brief, illustrated chapters on fifty landmark cameras and the photographers who used them, Michael Pritchard offers an entertaining look at photography as practiced by professionals, artists, and amateurs. A History of Photography in Fifty Cameras is organized chronologically, beginning with William Henry Fox Talbot’s wooden “Mousetrap” camera of 1835. Other entries include the Brownie (1900), the Coronet Midget (1935), the Kodak Instamatic 100 (1963), and, of course, the Polaroid SX-70 (1972). Photographs within each chapter show not only the cameras themselves but also samples of the images made with them. Pritchard uses each camera as a point of entry for talking about the people who used them and the kind of photos they produced, from Weegee and his Speed Graphic to Cartier-Bresson and the Leica’s role in the invention of photojournalism. In the hands of individual photographers, he reveals, cameras came to represent unique styles of depiction.
Together, the stories of the fifty cameras gathered here present an approachable and informative take on a medium that continues to fire the imagination, whether we’re perfecting the selfie or longing for the days of Fotomat.

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