Student Reflection on Research Project for Exhibition
Photographers of Greek Antiquities
As someone who has always admired photography and the memorable moments that it has the ability to capture, I took on this research project with a fascination for photography and Ancient Greek art and architecture. Having no previous knowledge of the history of photography, I found this project to be a great way to learn about the invention of photography and its history to the present day.The focus of my research was four prominent photographers of Ancient Greek art and architecture whose work is featured in the exhibition, The Creative Photograph in Archaeology. These photographers, in chronological order, are William James Stillman, Frederic Boissonnas, Herbert List, and Goesta Hellner. Knowing that these photographers were renowned for their documentation of one of the most famous periods in art, I had expected to find a great amount of information on all of them. Instead, it was difficult to find much information and required extensive use of databases, interlibrary loan and even so far as to contact the German Archaeological Institute in Athens.
It was impressive that three of the four photographers were not only published by other authors, but they published their own photographs as well. The only photographer who is not published and is still alive is Goesta Hellner. Fortunately, I was able to learn about him because I had a chance connection with Goesta's son, Nils, through an email, who currently works at the German Archaeological Institute in Athens, where his father used to work. The finding of a primary contact like this was an amazing opportunity, because he knew information that a book might not necessarily have published and was very enthusiastic to share information about his father.
Connecting with Nils Hellner made the research much more personal because I was participating in emailed interviews with someone, beyond reading the research someone else had already completed. Contacting Nils also helped me to realize that there is always information out there and you just have to search for it. It was fascinating to see the different ways in which these Greek monuments and their architectural details could be captured through the lens of the same device, a camera. It was a great opportunity and a worthwhile experience to learn about such talented photographers.
Angela Howard, Art History Major, Class of 2008