MP-1987.2.5 | Olive Hosmer on camel at pyramids, Egypt, about 1900

Olive Hosmer on camel at pyramids, Egypt, about 1900
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
20 x 25 cm
Gift of Mrs. Olive Elwell
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  outdoor (47) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Why do we take pictures on our trips to foreign countries? To allow our friends and family the vicarious pleasure of travel when they look at our snaps. To remind ourselves of places too quickly visited. Perhaps to prove that we did actually go there, that we did in fact climb the Eiffel Tower, touch the Manneken-Pis, see the Taj Mahal. Ever since it was invented, the camera has been the necessary companion of travellers and explorers of all kinds. Even today, we discover the world through the camera lens. The postcard industry is based on this principle.

  • What

    Like Niagara Falls, the pyramids are one of the most popular tourist destinations, and thus the most photographed. The tourism industry is inseparable from the photography industry.

  • Where

    From the advent of photography, Egypt and the Middle East have been prime destinations for photographic expeditions. The vestiges of Ancient Egypt were photographed to provide visual evidence that could lay old archaeological debates to rest.

  • When

    The Orient fascinated the colonial powers of the 19th century. Put to the service of sciences as diverse as archaeology and criminology, and of practices such as anthropometry (the discipline devoted to the identification and grouping of individuals by their anatomical measurements), photography became a formidable instrument of knowledge and control of foreign populations.

  • Who

    Photography provided the theoretically irrefutable proof that travellers had been to the places they claimed to have visited. The evidentiary power of the photograph was essential to the credibility of travel accounts.