Ethno-Photography

Photographing People in the World. This page is under construction - and will hopefully expand to considerable size.

It is unclear what we might take ethno-photography to mean. At one level any photography of people out in the World, whether it is documentary, photojournalism or street photography is going to be ethnographic. But so too can family photography and formal portraiture be taken as ethnographic. Such a broad and inclusive definition would have more with the way we view sets of photographs. It is a reader's position, and from this angle Peter Marshall's bus and carnival photos provide ethnographic material as does the street work of Michael Carlebach, Julia Dawson, Richard Robinson and Bill Mattick. Puruse the Gallery to see what we mean. So too, of course, is Jay Ruby's book Secure the Shadow which is an entirely ethnographic reading of mortuary photography.

But what would be a photographer's position, the position of the "writer" of photographs rather than that of the reader? When does a photographer DO ethno-phography, beyond the use of the camera to provide brute visual documents? In general, and for the moment, we will take ethnographic photography to be an attempt to portray some aspect of a people's life. It will usually provide a mix of imagery and explanatory text. This would make ethno-photography a type of "photo-essay" that treats a human and humane topic. We will start with our own work which we hope to flesh out with appropriate supporting texts.

The following pages can be thought of as Ethnographic in content.

  • Kujamaat-Joola/photogallery/photos.html

    Photos from the Jóola of Sénégal, West Africa: photographs taken by J. David Sapir during anthropological and linguistic fieldwork in the 1960's. I am currently featuring photographs taken during the public festivities at boys' initiations.

    In January of 1997 twenty two of Sapir's Jóola photographs were shown at Brookhaven College Center for the Arts, Dallas Texas. David Newman, the Gallery's director, wrote up a statement about Sapir's photographs and about photography in general. Newman has kindly allowed Fixing Shadows to mirror his essay.

  • In 1974 Frank Cancian, who had conducted extensive field work in Chiapas, Mexico, assembled into a book a portfolio of his photographs and published them as Another Place. Fixing Shadows presents a web version of the book, with added bibliography and a new introduction by Cancian

  • For almost 30 year Sara Wiles has worked on and near West Wind Reservation . Sara gives Fixing Shadows 32 images of daily life among the Northern Arapaho


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