Geoffrey Batchen explores the first fifty years of photography in Britain.
The announcement of photography’s invention in January 1839, first in Paris and then in London, introduced a new power into British life. This new power—derived from photography’s capacity to automatically capture the images created in a camera—was soon being used for every conceivable purpose. The two exhibitions curated by Geoffrey Batchen for the Bodleian Libraries focus on those uses by tracing the development and dissemination of photographic images within Britain during the medium’s first fifty years. By identifying the key themes addressed in the exhibitions, Batchen shows how photography intersected with all aspects of a nascent modernity, helping to make Britain the society it is today.