This research explores the sociology and social history of dominant pictorial forms in amateur photography. An attempt is made to illuminate the organizational structure and institutional interconnections prevalent in the amateur photography world, and to explore relationships between cultural activities and the social and economic forms of organization which shape and support them. Through the analysis of historical documents and records concerning amateur photography and the photographic industry, through extensive interviewing of industry representatives and amateur association officers, and through long term participant-observation in camera clubs and at amateur exhibitions and salons, the research reveals an historical interlocking between the corporate photographic industry (especially Eastman Kodak) and networks of amateur associations and camera clubs organized under the umbrella of the Photographic Society of America. The interlocking of amateur organizations with the photo industry has been accompanied by a convergence of aesthetic concerns and stylistic conventions. "Pictorialist" photography, a romantic style encompassing a limited set of pleasant subjects photographed according to long practiced formulas for framing, composition, focus and tone, came to be propagated by thousands of serious amateur groups and the photographic industry alike. This stable and predictable cultural practice is shown to be related in many ways to stable institutionalized relationships between camera club amateurs, professional photographers, and the photo industry. A great deal of time and money has been invested by the Photographic Society of America and Eastman Kodak on convergent instructional and technical programs which promote pictorial photography as a hobby and teach pictorialist tenets as normative evaluative criteria. Industry marketing has matched the development of new products to established preferences for pictorialist form. Together, photographic manufacturers and amateur associations have worked to shape mainstream notions of what constitutes "good" photography.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Communication)--Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, 1987. Includes bibliography.