History of Photography

I.     Course Prefix/Number: ART 110

       Course Name: History of Photography

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course presents visually oriented history of development of commercial and creative photography and photographic technology. Focus is on understanding how photography fits into past and present human experience and how photographer reflects self within social context of culture.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. Identify technical advancements in the field of photography.
  2. Distinguish the aesthetics of specific time periods and explain how photography related to those ideas.
  3. Illustrate the impact of past developments in photography on the present.
  4. Explain how photography fits into the context of art movements, as well as commercial necessities.
  5. Relate developments in photography to painting, film and digital art.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Before 1827
    1. Camera Obscura
    2. Pinhole
    3. Camera Lucida
    4. Chemistry
  2. 1827-1900
    1. The early years of technical discovery
      1. Daguerreotype
      2. Cylotype
      3. Glass Plate
      4. Collodion
      5. Albumen
    2. Portraiture
      1. In America
      2. In Europe
      3. In Asia
    3. Documentation: Landscape and Architecture
      1. Panoramas
      2. Western landscape
      3. Near East
      4. Orient
    4. Documentation: Objects and events
      1. Industrial development
      2. United States
      3. Newsworthy events
      4. Daily life
      5. Ethnic customs
      6. Medical photography
      7. War documentation
      8. Civil War documentation
    5. Photography and Art: The first phase
      1. Photography and the nude
      2. Artistic photography
      3. Composite photography
      4. Narrative, allegorical and genre images
      5. Naturalism
      6. Art works in photographic reproduction
  3. 1900-present
    1. New technology
      1. Artificial light
      2. Photography of movement
      3. Instantaneous photographs of everyday life
      4. Origins of color photography
    2. Art photography: another aspect
      1. Pictorialism
      2. Photo-Secession
    3. Documentation of the social scene
      1. Early social documentation
      2. Social photography in publication
      3. The portrait as social document
      4. Social photography during depression
    4. Art photography and modernism
      1. Experimentation of Light Graphics
      2. Collage and montage
      3. “The New Vision” straight photography/ precisionism
      4. Photography and industrialism
    5. Photography in print media
      1. Turn of century trends
      2. Photojournalism
      3. War reportage
      4. Postwar photojournalism
      5. Small camera work
      6. Advertising, fashion, celebrities
      7. Photo essay
    6. Photography since 1950-The straight image
      1. Postwar trends
      2. Social documentary
      3. Photojournalism
      4. Portraiture
    7. Photography since 1950-Manipulations and color.
      1. Conceptualizing the photograph
      2. Interventions and manipulations
      3. New color photography
      4. New printing technologies
      5. Digital imaging
      6. Painting and photography

VII.  Methods of Instruction

This course will be presented through a series of media lectures, videos and a field trip to a gallery or museum of photography.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Course may be taught as a face-to-face, hybrid or online course.
  1. Three (3) quizzes.
  2. Final exam.
  3. One (1) five-page research paper and a two-page field trip report.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Book:  World History of Photography by Naomi Rosenblum.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

The final grade will be based upon following elements and their weights.
  1. Quizzes 20%
  2. Mid term exam 20%
  3. Field trip report 15%
  4. Research paper 20%
  5. Final Exam 25%

XI.   Other Course Information

Please note:
Some of the activities, lectures and assignments in this class may include imagery that is controversial, uncomfortable, shocking, has nudity, and personally unpopular to one's beliefs. If a student objects to this practice, he/she is encouraged to discuss with the instructor early in the semester alternative ways of completing course requirements.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.