CONF Jun 17, 2021

Open up the morgue! (online, 2 Jul 21)

online / Amsterdam, Jul 2, 2021

Hans Rooseboom, Rijksmuseum

Online Symposium on photojournalism and the accessibility of press photo archives.

How Press Photo Archives are Enabling a New History of Photojournalism

The Photo Morgue, The New York Times’ legendary photo archive, is so well known that ‘morgue’ has become a synonym for ‘press archive.’ However, press photos in archives are far from dead. In this symposium we focus on the importance and use of press photo archives in researching the history of photojournalism.”

The symposium will focus on the new field of research that has emerged over the past ten years thanks to the online publication of press photo archives. This development has turned the original negatives, colour slides and prints, which form the basis of every publication in the 20th century, into accessible research objects. The material aspects of press photographs provide a rich source on the production and dissemination of visual news in the 20th century.

For a long time, the history of press photography revolved around famous photographers, iconic photos or photos of iconic events. In short, the highlights. The digitization and preservation of extensive collections of analogue press photos, newspapers and magazines slowly make what in online marketing terms is called ‘the long tail’ visible. Aided by advances in online collaboration and machine learning, the great mass of everyday events, photographed by countless anonymous press photographers for a wide range of media, is quickly becoming available for research.

As the focus shifts from the highlights to the whole, we can address new and fundamental questions: how did photojournalism reach and influence the masses in the 20th century? How does this relate to photojournalism today?



10.15-10.20 Taco Dibbits / Welcome
10.20-10.30 Mattie Boom / Introduction

Session 1 Moderated by Thomas Smits
Elwin Hendrikse // Documenting The New Nation: Henri Cartier-Bresson in Indonesia

Gaia Salvatore // Photographs in print. Twentieth-Century Neapolitan Photojournalistic Archives: Production and Reception

11.00-11.15 Panel and Q&A

11.15-11.45 Break

Session 2 Moderated by Mattie Boom
11.45 - 12.00
Marie-Eve Bouillon // Archiving Le Monde's image practices (1980-2000) in the National Archives of France

12.00 - 12.15
Eva Kraus & Regina Retter // How to digitize 15 million press photos: The analogue STERN photo archive at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Tom Allbeson & Bronwen Colquhoun // Picture Post installed & uploaded: Historicizing a mid-century photomagazine

12.30-12.45 Panel and Q&A

12.45-13.45 Break

Session 3 Moderated by Thomas Smits
Helen Lewandowski // ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’: Analysing everyday photography in The New York Times, 2000 to 2020

Nanne van Noord // Computational Methods for Iconic Image Analysis

Lauren Tilton // Photogrammar: From the Iconic to the Whole
14.30 - 14.45 Panel and Q&A

14.45 - 15.15 Break

Session 4 Moderated by Hans Rooseboom
Thierry Gervais & Vincent Lavoie // Facing Black Star; From a corporate press agency to a public cultural institution.

Durkje van der Wal // The A.B.C. Press Archive and Imre Rona: Inspirator of Dutch photojournalism, 1931-1974

Nadya Bair // Mapping the Decisive Network: European Magazines and the Magnum Photos Archive

16.00-16.15 Panel and Q&A

16.15-16.30 Short break

Session 5 Moderated by Thomas Smits
Melvin Wevers & Nico Vriend // What to do with 2.000.000 press photos? The challenges and opportunities of applying computer vision to a digitized press photo collection

Jenny Hottle & Will Davis // Making 125 Years of Images Findable

17.00-17.15 Panel and Q&A

17.15 End of symposium


For information and registration:

This symposium is organised in close consultation with the Dutch National Archives, Nederlands Fotogenootschap, Spaarnestad Photo and TMG Journal for Media History.

CONF: Open up the morgue! (online, 2 Jul 21). In:, Jun 17, 2021 (accessed Jul 31, 2021), <>.