In Focus: The Evolution of the Personal Camera

In Focus: The Evolution of the Personal Camera


The camera [detail]. Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

In This Exhibition

For many Americans today, snapping a photo is as easy as pulling out a smartphone. However, that digital photo is the result of decades of experimentation and development, from first forays into bulky and difficult-to-use professional cameras to instant-photo Polaroids.

Since the advent and eventual commercialization of photography throughout the nineteenth century, cameras have continuously redefined the American public’s conception of how images and history can be captured and shared. Looking to the early cameras of the 1800s to today’s cell phones and social networking apps, this exhibition explores how the personal camera has shaped American consciousness and culture over the course of its development.

Credit: This exhibition was created as part of the DPLA’s Digital Curation Program by the following students as part of Dr. Joan E. Beaudoin's course "Metadata in Theory and Practice" in the School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University: Ellen Tisdale, Rachel Baron Singer, Amanda Seppala, Michell Geysbeek, and Jay Purrazzo.