Research: Ethnic Photography

I stumbled upon this blog entry and thought I might link to it as a view into the history of people of color/various ethnicities and their connection to photography – as subjects.

Reading this may infuriate many of you but it is a truth we cannot deny.


“Ethnic photography originally began as “objective” photography. Early photographers traveled to exotic lands, studying the people and their environments, giving the everyday person a new photographic view of worlds, previously only known through paintings. This also gave researchers a chance to perfect the negative-positive photographic process. Little more than 100,000 ethnological studies were produced in the period between 1870-1898.

By 1900, world maps began to precisely indicate population density, race, religion, and commerce around the world. This information allowed travelers with cameras to easily find the least exploited people, offer them small amounts of money, and in return, take many photographs.

Refinement in the developing processes, allowed photographers to expand their camera visions to “erotic views” of exotic people. These exotic ethnic images became a very fashionable subject, influencing all areas of European culture.”

Read the full blog entry here.

See examples of “ethnic postcards.”

PHOTO: Sample “erotica” postcard, Danseuse mauresque, Verlag J. Geiser Alger -Rückseite beschrieben 1917

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