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Title: Training the eye of the photographer : the education of the amateur
Author: Cross, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 6113
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2007
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Increasing interest has been paid to amateur forms of photography from within a range of disciplines including the social sciences, cultural studies and art, but still unresolved is how best to account for amateur photography and its cultural significance. In this thesis I critically review how amateur photography has been defined, arguing that the absence of an adequate account stems from an insufficient engagement with the historical cultural divisions between photographic practices, and from a more recent tendency to aestheticise amateur productions. Against such absences and tendencies, I offer a historically and sociologically grounded analysis of the meaning-making practices in which amateurs are engaged. In responseto the lack of historical perspective on the social processes of distinction in photography, I provide a critical account of the parallel developments of amateur photography and professionalism towards the end of the nineteenth century, including the rise of photography education. Rather than simply argue that there is a distinction between amateur and professional photography, I also show how they intersect in photography education. I consider how an abstracted notion of professionalism is formulated within 'serious' amateur education courses which draw on earlier discourses of commercial and art practice to legitimise a particular technical/aesthetic vision in photography. Through first-hand observations I explore the variousm ethodsb y which studentsa cquire andn egotiatet his professional language of photography. Rather than focusing simply on amateur productions, my analysis incorporates an assessment of curriculum and teaching, but also includes students' own accounts of photography. The meaning of photography is transformed through the processes of education from a social to an aesthetic one, but the foreclosure of amateur ways of seeing is never complete because students continue to articulate a familial relationship to photography. My study underscores the methodological value of focusing on the accounts of photography given by amateurs rather than privileging expert professional or artistic knowledges. Through such an approach the significance of photography within the sphere of the amateur is realised.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available