Photography changes everything

Marvin Heiferman (ed.) Photography Changes Everything (New york: Aperture/smithsonian, 2012)

[Update June 2014] Sadly, the Smithsonian discontinued this very useful website in June 2014, so none of the links below are working any more. However, the archived version of the website can still be accessed via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine:


A unique manifesto for the transformative power of photography, this collection of essays and images, edited by curator and writer Marvin Heiferman and published by Aperture in 2012, arose out of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative’s project that ran between 2007-2010. Theorists, artists, scientists, professional photographers and members of the public have contributed short illustrated postulates, such as, for example:

Photography changes what tourists want to see

Photography changes the technology and collection of astronomical data

Photography changes what we see, depending on who’s looking

Photography changes the movies we choose to see

Photography changes the way we communicate

Photography changes our relationship to time, the unknown, and to ourselves

Photography changed photography



The following quote from Martin Heiferman’s introduction sums up what we could perhaps describe as a mediating power of photography:

By its very nature, photography slows time to a standstill in order to corral and flash-freeze information. But just as impressively and importantly, photography is active; it keeps things moving …

Photographs don’t only show us things, they do things. They engage us optically, neurologically, intellectually, emotionally, viscerally, physically. …

[A]s photography changes everything, it changes itself as well… (16-20)

photo_changes_everything_02Click! Photography changes everything: Website of Smithsonian Photography Initiative

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