© Matthias Gabi

Technical Instructions, Manuals and Textbooks

29 February to 31 May

Exhibitions of the
Photo Library

Photography is closely linked to the book as a medium. No sooner had the first photographic processes been invented than people started playing around with ideas for how these images could be circulated – rendered as typographic reproductions – to reach a large readership in the form of books, magazines and newspapers. It was printed photographs that initially ensured the mass distribution of these pictures, which ultimately brought them the primacy within the visual media that they still enjoy today. And for this reason it is also impossible to imagine photographs being collected, preserved and communicated without the medium of the book. The longer monographic photo books have been around, the more they have been acknowledged as artistic works, yet there are still many vernacular and inconspicuous publications in the realm of photography that are only gradually becoming a focus of attention. This includes the broad spectrum of how-to literature, ranging from scientific reference books on optics and chemistry – and more recently on digital imaging processes – to basic works on photographic practices and concise introductions in the form of slim booklets. 

One of the most important publishers in this area had the following promotional blurb on the cover of a book produced in 1945: “The Wilhelm Knapp publishing house in Halle an der Saale is the oldest and most eclectic publisher of photographic books. Its publications have supported the gradual advancement of photography for a century. Its scientific works have indicated new paths that the practice might take. Its specialist books have helped the craft of photography attain the importance it now enjoys. Its amateur writings have brought the art of photography scores of new friends in every generation.” This quotation neatly describes the three types of books conveying the fundamentals of photography that can also be found in the holdings of the Fotobibliothek: scientific works, specialist books on the craft of photography and amateur writings.

Curation: Matthias Gabi, Head of Fotobibliothek


To the Photo Library catalogue