An historical photograph is recognized in two ways: the viewer Identifies features of the image that is related to place, people, and society of a former period of time; secondly, the viewer responds to particular kinds of tactility of the print.
With regard to the first way, features of life style, clothing, activities, architecture and social gestures are used to identify a photograph historically and nationally. Examples of this are found in the form of styles of clothes of the subjects, their poses, and the kinds of activities that they are engaged in.
Historical photographs tell of “then”, and its conjunction with “now”. They offer an opportunity to discover similarities among people that are created through the environmental connections of land and labor, and through the material conditions they confront. They also provide an opportunity to discover the diversity of the peoples and their cultural variation, not only differences, but to underscore as well what is consistent and persistent among us: from culture to culture and from past to present.
The second characteristic by which we recognize historical photographs is its perceptual quality. The communal essence of what was found and extracted centuries ago by the photographer depends on the identifiable presence of the content of the print, and equally Important, on the perceptive quality by which the image is offered. For viewers to come in contact with what historical photography offers, to fully recognize photographs of cultures and heritage, the printing process appropriate to the creation of the image must be kept.
Photographs that were first created through platinum, palladium, gum bi-chromate, or carbon can be effectively replicated with contemporary processes of commercially made silver gelatin paper. IMAGE’s responsibility in conserving visual heritage is to replicate prints from historical negatives printed with contemporary materials with the realization of how those images were received, felt, and responded to by their photographers and their viewers.