The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s essay provides an introduction to the general history of photography. He traces its development from the original camera obscura that has been with us since time immemorial, and recognizes the contributions of those who helped to explore the world of light and time, acknowledging the harbingers who produced the earliest photographs. Álvarez Bravo explains the various forms of photography, outlining the problems and solutions of each one in turn. He lists some of the major photographers, earliest forerunners, and researchers and inventors of the devices, and refers to the specific branch of chemistry that facilitated this way of perceiving and capturing reality.
This essay was apparently the text of a lecture that was delivered by Manuel Álvarez Bravo (1902-2002) in November 1933, as part of an exhibition that was chronicled for posterity in a 1950 book subsequently published by Enrique Fernández Ledesma, La gracia de los retratos antiguos [The Charm of Old Portraits], a seminal book in the history of Mexican photography. This document provides an extremely valuable list of names and addresses of photographers, which sheds light on the number of studios in operation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Without this essay, we would have a far less complete understanding of the popularity of photography throughout the country, especially in Mexico City. This essay is undoubtedly the work of one of Mexico’s most notable photographers.
The book is a national historic treasure.