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Photography: researching its history, processes, and photographers  

Last Updated: Oct 26, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Featured resource: ARTstor

ARTstor collections are comprised of contributions from museums, individual photographers, scholars, special collections at libraries, and photo archives. ARTstor includes many photographic collections, such as 80,000+ images from the Magnum Photos and 16,000+ images from MOMA's Exhibition Installation Photograph Collection among others.

ARTstor's Online Image Viewer (OIV), which can be downloaded from within the ARTstor site, is a good alternative to PowerPoint.  It can be used to present ARTstor images; it can also incorporate images from other sources.  


Featured resource: Google Images

Google Images can be an extraordinarily rich source of photographic images.  It can be searched by entering text or by clicking the camera icon and dragging an image into the box to search for similar images.

As with all internet searches, be wary of poor quality, inaccuracy, misidentification, and copyright concerns.

Suggested guide to further image resources

Consult the following Library Guide for further information on finding, citing, managing, and using images.

Images: finding, using, and citing them
by Karen Bucky - Last Updated Oct 26, 2017
144 views this year

Selected museum, library, and academic websites with photographic images

  • Center for Creative Photography (University of Arizona)
    The Center for Creative Photography retains the archives of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, Harry Callahan, and other great twentieth-century photographers. The Center's collections of photographs by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams are available on the University of Arizona Institutional Repository.
  • George Eastman House
    Use this not-very-flashy but serviceable interface to explore the George Eastman House's photographic holdings, organized by photographers' last names.
  • Getty Museum Collection
    Check the "Photographs" icon and search for images in the Getty's vast photography collection. Images no longer in copyright can be downloaded at no cost.
  • Getty Research Institute. Photo Study Collection Database
    The Photo Study Collection Database includes approximately 300,000 descriptions of photographs that act as pathfinders to over 700,000 photographs browsable in the Research Library.
  • Harry Ransom Center (University of Texas at Austin) - Photography Collections Database
    Although many of the holdings are not available online, researchers can search the catalog for records of photographs and request digital scans for a fee.
  • Helios: The Smithsonian American Art Museum American Photography Online Collection
    The permanent collection of photography at the Smithsonian American Art Museum was established in 1983, when the National Endowment for the Arts transferred more than 1,500 photographs by American photographers who had received NEA grants. The museum continued to acquire modern and contemporary images, as well as significant collections of work by Aaron Siskind, Diane Arbus, Timothy O'Sullivan, and Irving Penn. Three online "galleries" include the first century of American photographs, contemporary American landscape photography, and American daguerreotypes.
  • History of the American West (Denver Public Library)
    Collection of over 30,000 photographs of the American West from 1860-1920, drawn from the holdings of the Western History and Genealogy Department at Denver Public Library. Search by keyword or browse by topic.
  • Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs (Northwestern University Library)
    Assembled by the British collector Humphrey Winterton, the collection depicts the breadth of African experience, documents African life and European life in Africa, and captures the African landscape as it changed over time. Included are photographs showing the building of East Africa’s railways, the growth of its urban centers and the development of European colonial administration. The photographs extensively document rural life as well as the travels and work of European colonial officials and private businessmen. The Winterton Collection provides an unsurpassed resource for the study of the history of photography in East Africa.
  • International Center for Photography (ICP)
    "The world’s leading institution dedicated to the practice and understanding of photography and the reproduced image in all its forms" through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach. Use the eMuseum database to search the ICP's collection of 100,000+ photographs.
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
    The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division include photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people. Notable sub-collections include Daguerrotype Portaits and Views and Photographs from the FSA-OWI 1935-1945.
  • Library of Congress. American Memory. America's First Look into the Camera.
    "The daguerreotype collection consists of more than 725 photographs dating from 1839 to 1864. Portrait daguerreotypes produced by the Mathew Brady studio make up the major portion of the collection. The collection also includes early architectural views by John Plumbe, several Philadelphia street scenes, early portraits by pioneering daguerreotypist Robert Cornelius, studio portraits by black photographers James P. Ball and Francis Grice, and copies of painted portraits." (from website)
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. Works of Art Collection Database. Photographs
    Descriptions often accompanied by images of over 29, 000 photographs in this Museum's photograph collection.
  • New York Public Library, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs
    Browse digital images from the New York Public Library's Photography Collection, including examples of almost every photographic process from the earliest daguerreotypes to contemporary digital images.
  • Semyon Fridlyand Archive Collection (University of Denver)
    Digital archive of over 10,000 photographs of daily life in the Soviet Union (1940s-1980s) by photojournalist and photo editor of Ogonek (the Soviet Union’s version of Life magazine). During his 40-year career, Fridlyand photographed every major theme in official Soviet history, from industrialization and collectivization, to the building of a Soviet empire stretching from the Pacific to the Baltic, and from the Arctic to the Black Sea. Fridlyand also covered the battlefields of WWII.
  • Weissman Preservation Center Directory to Photographs at Harvard
    A guide to the 7.5 million photographs in Harvard's library, museum, archive, and research institute collections. Search the Visual Information Access system for access to the photographs that have been digitized.
  • William Gedney Photographs and Writings (Duke University)
    The 50,000 item collection documents Gedney's work from the 1950s to 1989. Subjects include photographs of cross country road trips, rural New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn, rural Kentucky, Hippies in San Francisco, composers, gay rallies and demonstrations, St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf, India, England, Ireland, France, and a large number of nocturnal pictures.

Commercial, government, and news/journalism websites featuring photographic images

  • LIFE Magazine Photo Archive (hosted by Google)
    Millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Search the database by keyword, or browse by date or topic.
  • National Geographic Society
    Site includes many photographs depicting animals, the environment, travel, adventure around the world.
  • Time & Life Pictures: Defining Visions of an Enduring History
    "Time & Life Pictures represents some of the world's most recognizable imagery. On this website, we offer content from the finest photojournalists, documenting past and present political and cultural events, as well as celebrities and the American experience."
  • U.S. Government Photos and Images
    Photos from various U.S. government agencies and sites. Many photos and images are available for use in the public domain, and they may be used and reproduced without permission or fee. Other photos and images may be protected by license.

Journalism and editorial agencies

Associated Press |
Blackstar |
Contact Press Images |
Corbis |
Eyepress News Services |
Grazia Neri |
The Image Works |
IPNStock (Independent Photography Network) |
Magnum |
Polaris |
Pressphotos Agency |
Retna |
Reuters Pictures |


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