Episode 120: Good Pictures: Amateur Photography and Our Family with Art Historian Kim Beil

How did you and your ancestors learn how to take “Good Pictures?”  It’s likely they read Kodak’s guide for amateur photographers, How to Make Good Pictures published from 1912 to 1995. New cameras and new technology influenced how we took photographs and what they photographed.  My guest studied those popular guides to photography to compile a new type of history…one that focuses on average folks and their cameras.  Arranged topically within time frames you’ll learn that photographing your tv was a thing and that folks needed advice about the same things we might struggle with today from capturing good stills of wildlife to taking pictures at night. It’s a new way of looking at the pictures we took.  No history of photography would be complete unless it covers the beginnings of it all beginning with the daguerreotype.  This volume now sits on my personal reference shelf to be browsed and studied. Purchase her book here.

Related Episodes:

Episode 101: Rediscovering an American Community of Color

Episode 99: Finding Photographs on the Smithsonian Learning Lab with Curator Shannon Perich


About My Guest:

Kim Beil is an art historian who teaches at Stanford University. Her writing on art and culture has appeared in The Atlantic, Artforum, Art in America, Literary Hub, and Photograph Magazine, among many other publications. Her book, Good Pictures: A History of Popular Photography, was published in June 2020 by Stanford University Press. You can find her on Instagram: @kim.beil

About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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