Andrew Hershberger
Andrew Hershberger

In this age of social media and “selfies,” photography has become a defining element in our lives. Most of us would assume all that began in 1839 when Louis Daguerre developed the daguerreotype process, the first publicly announced photographic process which required only minutes of exposure in the camera and produced clear, finely detailed results


But Andrew Hershberger knows that photographic theorists frequently trace the roots of photography back to ancient times with the earliest mentions of the camera obscura (literally “dark room”).

An associate professor and chair of art history at Bowling Green State University, Hershberger will make selected stops within the history of photography in lectures at the Arizona Senior Academy on Monday and Tuesday (July 13 and 14). Entitled “Exploring the History of Photography: Selected Photographers and Theorists,” Part 1 on Monday will run from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Senior Academy’s Great Room. Part 2 on Tuesday will run from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Great Room.

Hershberger’s talks will be related to the book he wrote last year, “Photographic Theory: An Historical Anthology” (Boston and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), which won a 2015 Insight Award from the Society for Photographic Education.

The camera obscura showed how light projected through a narrow opening resulted in upside-down images.
The camera obscura showed how light projected through a narrow opening resulted in upside-down images.

Of course, the book is largely devoted to the modern, post-daguerreotype development of photography and photographic theory, but it is the only collection to include ancient and Renaissance—in addition to 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century—writings related to the subject.

For example, Hershberger includes excerpts from Plato’s “The Republic” (the famous allegory of the cave, which photographic theorists frequently claim as the first camera obscura) and Leonardo da Vinci’s descriptions of eye function as explained by the camera obscura.

The book stresses the drama of historical and contemporary debates within theoretical circles and features comprehensive coverage of recent trends in digital photography.

To read more on Hershbergers talks at the Senior Academy, click here.

Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer

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Photography’s Long Road from Camera Obscura to Digital: July 2015
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