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.
La gracia de los retratos antiguos [The Charm of Old Portraits] by Enrique Fernández Ledesma (1950) is required reading to learn about the history of photography in Mexico. It includes a prologue written by the diplomat Marte R. Gómez, as well as a list of daguerreotypists, ambrotypists, and photographers with their respective addresses between1845 and 1880. Gómez’s prologue illustrates the effort of the two compilers and image collectors, Ledesma and Manuel Álvarez Bravo. The book presents a historic review of portraits in daguerreotype, talbotype, ambrotype, and calling cards, etcetera, with text written by Fernández Ledesma as he presents the images.
La gracia de los retratos antiguos is important because it was one of the first serious efforts—if not the first book—that presented early photographic reproduction techniques in Mexico. Gaffes, surmises, analysis, and descriptions: all these appear among the magnificent images from the first photographic period in Mexico. This historic document is highly valuable for understanding the position in society and operations of the camera-smiths in Mexico City during the first phase of its photography.