Italy is celebrating her 150th birthday. On the occasion Marco Pizzo, director of Museo centrale del Risorgimento in Rome, publishes a volume collecting photographs of the event. Taking this book and photos of Risorgimento as a starting point Michele Smargiassi, in his always interesting blog, reflects on italian photographic history.
If “glory and war” do not appear in this photos, he writes, it is not for technical reasons but for the fact that italian photographers were studio photographers. So they represented facts and events as they would have done with studio portraits.
It reminds me of the plurality of factors we have to consider if we want to use photos as documents for history. Contextualization is crucial for historians, obviously. And it extends when we work with media, as photos. Technical development, photographic culture of producers and users, visual habits, actual circulation of the images are only some of the elements we have to contemplate.
This is just one of the reasons why I think that it would be fundamental to start a serious work on small photographers. The ones who do not have a name in photography handbooks.