Maine Photography:
A History, 1840-2015

By Libby Bischof, Susan Danly,
and Earle G. Shettleworth Jr.

Published by Down East Books
(an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield)
in cooperation with the Maine Historical Society
and the Maine Photo Project

Paperback; 196 pages
100+ illustrations in color and black-and-white
ISBN: 978-1-60893-505-5
Publication date: January 2016
List price: $50.00

Pre-order and more info

Join us for the launch on January 14!



The Maine Photo Project is pleased to announce the anticipated publication of this unprecedented and long-awaited history of photographs in Maine, from three of the state's most esteemed photo scholars, historians, and curators. In nine chapters, the authors will examine the origins of Maine's rich photographic traditions through an exploration of early photographic processes and their practitioners in the state; the rise of a fine-art photographic tradition through the work of pictoralists like F. Holland Day and Gertrude Käsebier and modernists like Eliot Porter and Berenice Abbott; and the evolution of a thriving contemporary photo scene through the end of the twentieth century and the first decade and a half of the twenty-first. The book will include more than 100 lush, full-color illustrations collections as well as an appendix that will serve as a finding aid to more than thirty of Maine's premier public photograph collections. Its publication is timed to coincide with the Maine Historical Society's exhibition Early Maine Photography: Images of People and Places from 1840 to 1870, on view now.

Maine's photographic history is so broad and diverse that "this book couldn't have been written by just one person," said co-author Libby Bischof. The team of authors includes Bischof as well as Susan Danly and Earle G. Shettleworth Jr, representing a range of interests and areas of expertise. Libby Bischof is Associate Professor of History at the University of Southern Maine and, with Susan Danly, the co-curator of Maine Moderns: Artists in Seguinland, a 2011 exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art, and the coauthor of the accompanying catalogue (Yale University Press, 2011). Susan Danly was the Curator of Graphics, Photographs, and Contemporary Art and ultimately Senior Curator at the Portland Museum of Art until her retirement in 2013; one of her many projects there was Georgia O'Keeffe and the Camera: The Art of Identity, a 2008 exhibition and catalogue also from Yale University Press.  Earle G. Shettleworth Jr. is the Maine State Historian and the outgoing director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. He is a lifelong photo collector and has published and lectured widely on early and local photographic traditions throughout Maine. Shettleworth (with assistance from Libby Bischof) is the primary curatorial voice behind the Early Maine Photography exhibition at Maine Historical Society.

While no one title on this subject can claim to be truly comprehensive, this book nevertheless represents the first sustained, scholarly treatment of the history of photography in Maine. Through striking images and thoughtful analysis, this book will be a beautiful and valuable record of a 175-year tradition in one of the most-photographed places in the world.

From the Rowman & Littlefield website:

Maine has always played a rich and varied role in the art of photography. For hundreds of years, photographers, like other artists, have made their way to Maine to capture the natural beauty and human culture of the state. So, too, have many photographers come from Maine, and many contributions by Mainers have been made to the medium. Maine Photography is the first comprehensive overview of the history of photography in the state. Providing basic knowledge of the most important people and institutions to have promoted photography, this volume also studies the ways in which photography has informed the understanding of the social and cultural history of Maine. 
Beginning with the earliest daguerreotype portraits of the 1840s, this history traces the growth of the medium—emphasizing key contributions, such as the Stanley brothers’ invention of the dry plate process—through to the present. Key topics addressed throughout the book include the importance of photography in documenting labor and economic life, the close relationship between photography and the growth of tourism, and the role of Maine photographers in advancing the medium as a fine art form. Published in conjunction with the Maine Photo Project, this is a unique and timely addition to the body of work on the importance of Maine to American art.