Photography began in 1826-1827, when Joseph Nicéphore Niépce exposed the first photograph in human history. Now, thanks to smartphone technology, more photographs are taken each day than were taken in the entire history of the world before the start of the twenty-first century.
Clay Jenkinson has chosen ten magnificent photographs (in addition to plenty runners-up and honorable mentions) to explore the ways in which great photographs epitomize a moment or an era, capture an extraordinary event, provide a window into the human condition, or make us ache with appreciation and wonder.
In each instance, Clay tells the backstory of the photograph: who took it, when, under what circumstances, what has happened in the aftermath and what influence the photograph has had on the world.
Audience members will be encouraged to nominate their own favorites, which we will call up to examine together.
One perhaps obvious choice is “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” (1932), taken atop Rockefeller Center in 1932 by Charles Ebbets, Thomas Kelley and William Leftwhich. Recently it has been alleged that the photograph was staged, but it is in fact authentic, taken 69 floors above the New York streets.