Following Ottoman Photographs

with Edhem Eldem

hosted by Nir Shafir and Emily Neumeier

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Photography came to the Ottoman Empire almost immediately after its invention in 1839. Some of the major figures and studios involved in Ottoman photography have been identified, and certain stylistic aspects of images produced in and of the Ottoman Empire such as orientalism are well established. Yet there is comparatively little extant work regarding the reception, impact, and circulation of images during the late Ottoman period. In this episode, Emily Neumeier and Nir Shafir sit down with Edhem Eldem to discuss the ways in which restoring contexts of viewing, circulation, and publication of images offers a different story of late Ottoman photography using examples from the Camera Ottomana photography exhibition at Koç RCAC in Istanbul, curated by Zeynep Çelik, Edhem Eldem, and Bahattin Öztuncay.

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Edhem Eldem is a professor in the Department of History at Boğaziçi University. (see
Nir Shafir is a doctoral candidate at UCLA focusing on the history of knowledge and science in the early modern Middle East. He also runs the website HAZİNE, which profiles different archives, libraries, and museums that house sources on the Islamic world. (see
Emily Neumeier is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania researching art and architecture in the Ottoman world. (see

Episode No. 195
Release Date: 11 August 2015
Location: Boğaziçi University
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Bibliography and images courtesy of Edhem Eldem and Emily Neumeier
Musical excerpts from Harmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal Efendi / Kemany Minas - Eghin Havasi (1925) / Katibim (Uskudar'a Gider iken) - Safiye Ayla

The Camera Ottomana exhibit, curated by Zeynep Çelik, Edhem Eldem, and Bahattin Öztuncay, is on display at Koç RCAC / ANAMED in Beyoğlu, Istanbul until 19 August 2015.


Camera Ottomana exhibit website
Camera Ottomana exhibit catalog, by Zeynep Çelik, Edhem Eldem, Bahattin Öztuncay, Frances Terpak & Peter Louis Bonfitto (Koç University Press, 2015)

Eldem, Edhem. "Powerful Images: The Dissemination and Impact of Photography in the Ottoman Empire, 1870-1914" in Camera Ottomana, ed. Zeynep Çelik and Edhem Eldem. Koç University Press, 2015.

Baleva, Martina. “Revolution in the Darkroom: Nineteenth-Century Portrait Photography as a Visual Discourse of Authenticity.” Hungarian Historical Review 3, no. 2 (2014): 363­–390.

Gavin, Carney E. S., ed. “Imperial Self-Portrait: The Ottoman Empire as Revealed in the Sultan Abdul Hamid II’s Photographic Albums Presented as Gifts to the Library of Congress (1893) and the British Museum (1894).” Special issue. Journal of Turkish Studies; Türklük Bilgisi Araştırmaları 12 (1988).

Marsoobian, Armen T. Fragments of a Lost Homeland: Remembering Armenia. London: I. B. Tauris, 2015.

Özendes, Engin. From Sébah & Joaillier to Foto Sabah: Orientalism in Photography. Istanbul: YKY, 2004.

Öztuncay, Bahattin, The Photographers of Constantinople: Pioneers, Studios, and Artists from 19th Century Istanbul. Istanbul: Aygaz, 2003.

The houshamadyan project:


Camera Ottomana exhibit entrance at Koç RCAC
Interior of Camera Ottomana exhibit

Early landscape photograph: Fisheries off the Bebek coastline, Istanbul, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, ¼-plate daguerreotype, 1843. Ömer Koç collection, image from the Camera Ottomana exhibition catalog, p. 69.
Orientalizing studio photograph of a “Turkish lady,” Pascal Sebah, ca 1870. Ömer Koç collection, image courtesy of Koç University.
Photograph album of the “Imperial Palace and Historic Monuments,” Abdullah Freres, 1891. Ömer Koç collection. The large collection of photographs sent by Abdülhamid II to the US are available online through the Library of Congress. 
Describing the variety of regional costume throughout the Ottoman domains at international exhbitions: Plate VI, “Women of Manisa,” in Osman Hamdy Bey and Marie de Launay, Les costumes populaires de la Turquie en 1873, Constantinople: Imprimerie du Levant Times and Shipping Gazette, 1873. 
Selection of postcards on display at the Camera Ottomana exhibition.
Photographs in Ottoman newspapers: Inauguration of the clock tower in Üsküp [Skopje], Malumat 331 (17 Zilhicce 1319/ 14 March 1318/ 27 March 1902).
Collection of European newspapers with controversial images of Ottoman soldiers posing with severed heads. Listen to the episode to learn the full story of these images. 
Seriality and the Archive: a collection of portraits of Ottoman Bank employees.


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