Photography, Witnessing and History

Presentation by Paul Lowe

In its relatively short history, photography has arguably become the predominant medium through which we represent the world around us. It is hard to imagine a world without the photographic image, so ubiquitous it has become as a form of communication, documentation, and personal and artistic expression. Today, more photographs are taken every two minutes than in the whole of the nineteenth century. We now photograph everything, every moment of our lives and the world around us. Photography has arguably become the means through which we most strongly remember the past—and represent the present—forming the foundation of not only our collective social memory, but also our personal memories too. This presentation will explore how the photographic image has engaged with the historical moment, from its inception in the mid 19thcentury to the present day.