sexta-feira, 17 de junho de 2016

Photography as a historical source

It should be clear that man has always tried to represent the reality around them through drawings and paintings. The darkroom, developed in Renaissance Italy, was an instrument that has helped in the design. This unit formed an image that, through light, entering through a hole where there was a lens that projected an inverted image and sharp object. For many years people worldwide have sought a way to fix this image captured on a surface. However, only in the nineteenth century were developed several techniques to write / record this image.

So, from the invention, by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (1787-1851) of the first photographic process called Daguerreotype in January 1839, the photograph captured the interest of many areas of science, since it made possible the recording, using of light, a fragment of the "real", thus putting aside the inaccuracies that could be subject to human observation or drawings and prints made by artists.

However, with respect to the analysis of photography in general, it is necessary to bear in mind that "every picture has its origin from the desire of an individual who found himself motivated to freeze picture on a given aspect of reality in some place and time." (Kossoy, 2009a, p. 36)

The photos keep in its sensitive surface, the unfailing mark of the past which produced and consumed. Were once present memory, next to those who had the guarded and used to collect relics, souvenirs and witnesses. In the process of being contained come retrieve your character presence in a new place, in another context and with a different function. (Mauad, 1996, p. 10)

Probably for this reason, despite the expansion of the concept document to be relatively ancient in history, dating back to the School of Annales, the picture is still facing difficulties to be used by researchers as a historical source. According to Boris Kossoy,

the problem lies precisely in their [the researchers] refusal to accept, analyze and interpret the information when it is not transmitted in a codified system of signs in accordance with traditional canons of written communication. (Kossoy, 2009a, p. 30)

Furthermore, several authors point out that photography is still commonly used only as "illustration to the text," as you can be noticed in the following excerpt from the work of Maria Teresa Bandeira de Mello and Fernando Alves-Pires purpose of the photographs taken by the expeditions sanitarians Oswaldo Cruz Institute:

for a long time historians in general, ignored the iconographic sources as such. Restricted to written documents, they resorted to only in the form of illustrations, often taken as self-evident and self-explanatory, neglecting therefore, what was most significant: its relations with the historical moments in which came to light. (Mello, PIRES-ALVES, 2009, p. 139-179)

Recently this traditional view has been replaced by the notion of photography as a "historical source of a multidisciplinary approach" (Kossoy, 2009b, p. 21), to the extent that actions are developed, which aim to "organize their information, establish appropriate methodologies for research and analysis to decipher their content and, therefore, that the rise of reality." (Kossoy, 2009a, p. 32)

Kossoy explains that there are three essential components for running a photograph: the subject, the photographer and technology. It should be noted also that these elements are part of a process that took place in certain time and space coordinates, which resulted in a final product that is photography. You can then say that is the subject matter (fraction of "real"), the photographer is the author, while the technology is the means (machinery, the photosensitive product, and techniques used for setting the record through light exposure), the three elements together giving rise to the photograph (record a snippet of "real"). Therefore, it is clear that any photograph is the result of human action (Photographer), in a given time and space, chose a subject and to register it, used the resources available technology. (Kossoy, 2009a, p. 37) Kossoy also clarifies that the photographer acts as a "cultural filter" since it is he who selects the fraction of the real to be recorded, arranged for visual detail components of the subject, and uses technological means, these actions will influence the final picture result.


COSTA, Bianca Mandarino. Fotografias da Comissão Cruls: uma análise da imagem. Monografia de Especialização apresentada à Coordenação do Curso de Pós-Graduação em Preservação de Acervos de Ciência e Tecnologia. Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins. 2010. 101 p.
CARTIER-BRESSON, Anne. Uma nova disciplina: a conservação-restauração de fotografias. In: CADERNOS técnicos de conservação fotográfica. Rio de Janeiro: Funarte, 2004. n. 3.
KOSSOY, Boris. Fotografia & História. Rio de Janeiro: Ateliê editorial. 2009a.
KOSSOY, Boris. Realidades e ficções na trama fotográfica. Rio de Janeiro: Ateliê editorial. 2009b.
MAUAD, Ana Maria. Através da imagem: fotografia e história interfaces. Tempo, Rio de Janeiro, vol. 1, n °. 2, 1996, p. 73-98. Available at: <> Access: 17 September 2010.

MELLO, Maria Teresa Villela Bandeira de; PIRES-ALVES, Fernando. Expedições científicas, fotografia e intenção documentária: as viagens do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz (1911-1913). História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, v.16, supl.1, jul. 2009, Available at: <> Access: 17 September 2010.

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