This dissertation develops an appropriate model to interpret and understand the early stages of amateur photography (1880-1910). The origin of amateur photography is a neglected field, however it tells us more about our own ways of visual communication. Driven by fierce competition in the international photo industry on the one hand and ambitious societies for amateur photographers on the other hand, by the end of the 19th century new groups emerged in the field of photography: masses of push the button amateurs and retailers. Artists were involved too, they were attracted to snapshot photography as a new way of seeing. Bourdieu’s model of the cultural field outlines the interaction between these groups, their interests and their conflicts. This study takes the situation in the Netherlands as a case in point, and concludes that early amateur photographers were young, urban, wealthy, well educated, and interested in new technology, mostly men and occasionally women. Decisive were the photo retailers among them. This particular group was involved in the amateur societies. It turns out they used the societies as network for business and photographic journals for promotional and commercial purposes.

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M.E. Halbertsma (Marlite) , A.M. Bevers (Ton)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Boom, M. (2017, October 6). Kodak in Amsterdam : de opkomst van de amateurfotografie in Nederland 1880-1910. Retrieved from