Exhibition at the City of Toronto Archives

September - December 2017  |  March - August 2018

 

Children on the street - visual precedents

During the period of the mid- to late-19th century in both North America and Britain the image of the impoverished child on the streets of large cities became a subject of aesthetic pleasure (through the painterly genre of the “waif” or “urchin”) and, as photography became technically more accessible and reproducible, a subject of media interest and a vehicle for social reform. As well, with the advent of Kodak in the 1880s and the explosion of amateur photography, a counter-image of the middle- and upper-class child as a tasteful photographic subject was actively promoted by the company. The range of potential image uses illustrates well the play between the formal and the factual that characterized, and still does, an inherent tension within the medium. This constitutes the larger image environment in relation to the representation of children that photographers working in Toronto in the early 20th century, such as Arthur Goss and William James, would have been aware of and influenced by.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHILE LOOKING AT THE EXHIBIT PHOTOGRAPHS

Why were photographs made? What was the commission?

Who made photographs? When and where? Were they a professional photographer or an amateur?

What were they used for? Did they get reused?


Where are they kept now? A public or private collection?

If archived, under what section or category? And which archive has the photographs, copies, negatives?

 

What, if any impact did they have?

a. At the time they were made
b. In between when they were made and the present

c. Now

 

What is the child’s presence in the photograph?

a. Incidental – are they “Stowaways?” (E. Edwards) Is their presence accidental, i.e. non- deliberate?

b. Is it a deliberate inclusion and/or is purpose primarily to document the children in public spaces?

 

If deliberate, are the children:

a. Unnamed
b. Named
c. Given a context? What are they doing? What is their agency in the public space?

KODAK MATERIAL

Ryerson University 

Archives & Special Collections

Research was conducted on photographic publications between 1900-1935 that instructed individuals “how” to perform photography. Various photographic texts, monthly journals, trade circulars, and magazines were researched to locate advertisements, photographs, articles, and essays that highlighted the various methods of “making” photographs. These materials were useful in understanding theories and representations surrounding women and children, street photography, cityscapes, public spaces, and social welfare and reform. 

Click here to see the materials that were included in the exhibition.

The Fine Art of Representing Children on the Streets

VID INGELEVICS​

Motherhood & Early Photography Practices

MARY ANDERSON​

'Dressing Down': 

Imaging Poverty

JULIA WINCKLER

 

 

 

 

THE ROLE OF PHOTOGRAPHY - A TIMELINE

 

1886 - 1918  Circulation and diverse use of photographs of children in Toronto social reform movements

 

1888 First portable camera aimed at amateurs introduced by Kodak

 

1888 System of archiving photographs introduced by Alphonse Bertillon

 

1888 - 1900 Key period of socially-concerned photography by Jacob Riis, New York

 

1890 - 1895 Invention of half-tone printing allows media to begin printing photos in newspapers regularly

 

1900 - 1930 Pictorial photography aims to advance the status of photography as fine art

 

1900 - 1920 Rapid expansion of amateur photography encourages a diverse and interesting approach to story-telling 

 

1900 - 1913 Rise of child portraiture in a professional studio setting

 

1905 Kodak launches the Brownie Camera 

 

1906 - 1936  Key period of socially-concerned photography by Lewis Hine

 

1906 Kodak’s 3B Quick Focus Camera hits the market

 

1909 - 1915 Key period for documenting Toronto’s playgrounds 

 

1909 - 1940 William James photographs Toronto

 

1910 - 1930 Kodak photography contests create mass interest and participation amongst amateur photographers

 

1910 - 1930 Female photographers play a key role as producers of children’s portraiture

 

1911 Creation of blueprint and photography section in the Toronto Public Works Department

 

1911 - 1940  Arthur Goss photographs for the City of Toronto

 

1911 - 1917 Department of Health and Housing commissions Goss to photograph unsanitary conditions in rears of houses in downtown Toronto

 

1913 Kodak promotes “At Home” portraiture creating a new photographic practice and aesthetic 

 

1913 Jacob Riis presents his piece, The Value of Playgrounds to the Community, in Toronto

 

1916 Kodak’s How to Make Good Pictures becomes an essential instructional text 

 

1917 - 1927 Key period for assembling and viewing the “Album” 

 

1918 Kodak’s Graflex Camera – “the best camera to use for ‘news-worthy’ images”

 

1919 - 1928 Key period for Toronto’s Central Neighbourhood House use of photography

 

 

City of Toronto Archives

Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections