Versions of reality : the production and function of photographs in colonial Queensland 1880-1900

Brown, Julie K. (1985). Versions of reality : the production and function of photographs in colonial Queensland 1880-1900 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Brown, Julie K.
Thesis Title Versions of reality : the production and function of photographs in colonial Queensland 1880-1900
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1985
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Ross Johnston
Total pages 2v
Language eng
Subjects 200199 Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified
200299 Cultural Studies not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract

This study has been directed to the examination of three questions: what is the nature of the process by which the photograph is constructed; what are the functions served by photographs in society; and what is the relationship of the subject content of the photograph to its production and function? The historical setting of this research in Australia is colonial Queensland from 1880-1900. This was an important period of regional development and growth for the colony.  

Part I deals with the issues confronting the photographer as producer. Governmental, professional and amateur photographers are treated separately in order to distinguish the factors which are prominent in the production of photographs. Part II examines the nature of the photograph as artifact. The rationale for each function of the photograph, as picture, illustration, advertisement and record, is examined in light of contemporary usage. Issues relating to the technologies of original photographic printing processes as well as the new reproduction processes are detailed because of the emphasis given to the use of original photographs in Part III of the study.  

A study collection on over 2900 photographs was assembled to examine the question posed in Part III concerning the relationship of production and function to subject content. A large number of sources ranging from newspapers, books, commercial prints to private albums of various types and government departmental sources were used for this purpose. Three themes were designated in the selection of the photographs: the land as natural environment, the land as resource and the work process. It was found that the representations of these subjects were substantially affected by the kind of production as well as the function such photographs served. The high concentration of functions of the photograph as picture and illustration was offset by reduced emphasis given to information and advertisement. The function of record remained relatively under-developed in this period. The subject content or reality which was reflected in the photographic image was necessarily a limited one and subject to factors relating to its construction and function in society.

Keyword Photography -- Queensland -- History

 
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