Photography, Level 3
The invention of photography in the mid-nineteenth century dramatically altered the ways in which people perceived the world around them. At a time when early telecommunications and the industrialisation of transport were enhancing global accessibility, photography allowed a new visual representation and therefore greater possible understanding of the world. Through photography people were able to ‘discover’ distant places, and the distribution of travel images and photographic souvenirs meant the world appeared ‘smaller’ than ever before.
Small Worlds brings together a range of nineteenth century photographs and albums that document far-ranging travels popularised in the West, from the ‘eternal cities’ of Europe, to mystical sites of the East, and romanticised, picturesque ruins of Great Britain. Whether created on location, bought as individual souvenir prints, through dealers as ready-made albums or ordered through catalogues, the works in this exhibition explore the beginnings of photography as it developed alongside tourism, and demonstrate the importance of early travel photographs in reflecting and shaping the expectations and encounters of Western tourists.