Light and Dark: A Little History of the Negative, a talk by Professor Geoffrey Batchen

John Loengard, Avedon holding his negative for Ronald Fischer, Beekeeper (1981), 1994

One of the distinctive characteristics of photography is that most analogue photographs are positive prints that have been made from a negative. Nevertheless, the negative is almost always regarded as a secondary entity in discussions of photography, if it is discussed at all. Looking at work by a range of practitioners, including William Henry Fox Talbot, Man Ray, Dorothea Lange, Richard Avedon and Andreas Gursky, this talk will offer a little history of the negative, tracing some of the ways that history complicates our understanding of the photograph.