Workshop 1

Mass Photography or Photographs en Masse?
Singular stories and photographic multitudes

Duration: 90 minutes
Maximum amount of people: 20
Cost: 0

Popular photography offers vast resources for its researchers, from the wealth of holdings in photographic archives to the dizzying numbers of photographs that circulate online. Too large to be grasped in its enormity, and too bewildering in its heterogeneity to submit to generalisation, how best can so-called everyday photography be understood? This workshop explores the theoretical and methodological challenges presented by everyday photography’s enormous volumes. Can we extrapolate meaningfully from single, exceptional images in an age of ever increasing photographic massification? How might the huge and expanding quantities of photographic material in archives and on image-sharing platforms be best interpreted across disciplines? In theorising about mass photographic practice, must we examine photographs en masse?
Through shared readings, guided discussion and an opening presentation on the theme by Dr Annebella Pollen, participants are encouraged to bring their own research experiences, questions and solutions.

Suggested readings

Pollen, Annebella. 2016. ‘The rising tide of photographs. Not drowning but waving?’ Captures, 1:1, Special issue: Post-photographie?

Rubenstein, Daniel and Katrina Sluis. 2013. ‘Concerning the undecidability of the digital image’, Photographies, 6:1, Special issue: Helsinki Photomedia conference 2012


Annebella Pollen is a social and cultural historian who researches art, craft, design, dress and photography across a range of periods and case studies. She is Principal Lecturer in Art and Design History at the University of Brighton, UK, the author of The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians (Donlon Books), which won a 2015 Most Beautiful Swiss Books award, and the co-curator of the accompanying 2015-2016 exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London. Her other books include Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life (I. B. Tauris) and the co-edited Dress History: New Directions in Theory and Practice (Bloomsbury).