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Called to the Camera

Called to the Camera

Black American Studio Photographers

Brian Piper
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A timely reconsideration of the history of photography that places Black studio photographers, and their subjects, at the center

From photography's beginnings in the United States, Black studio photographers operated on the developing edge of popular media to produce affirming portraits for their clients, as well as a wide range of photographic work rooted in their communities. Called to the Camera offers a comprehensive history of this work, from the nineteenth-century daguerreotypes of James Presley Ball to the height of Black studios in the mid-twentieth century, and considers contemporary photographers responding to Black studio traditions today. In addition to showcasing famous photographers such as Ball, James Van Der Zee, and Addison Scurlock, this volume brings attention to dozens of other artists across the country, including Florestine Perrault Collins, Austin Hansen, and Henry Clay Anderson. The book features more than one hundred extraordinary vintage photographs, many of them unique objects and some, like those by the Hooks Brothers Studio, published here for the first time. Highlighting Black subjects on both sides of the camera, Called to the Camera presents a broader and more inclusive history of photography.

Distributed for the New Orleans Museum of Art

Exhibition Schedule:
New Orleans Museum of Art
(September 15, 2022-January 8, 2023)


Brian Piper is assistant curator of photographs and Russell Lord is the Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, both at the New Orleans Museum of Art. John Edwin Mason is associate professor of history at the University of Virginia. Carla Williams is an artist and writer based in New Orleans.


  • Publisher: New Orleans Museum of Art
  • Publish Date: May 09, 2023
  • Pages: 228
  • Dimensions: 10.0 X 11.26 X 1.02 inches | 3.35 pounds
  • Language: English
  • Type: Hardcover
  • EAN/UPC: 9780300267389
  • BISAC Categories: American - African American, Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions - Group Shows, History, Subjects & Themes - Portraits & Selfies
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