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Formats of Photography Study Collection

Identifier: PICT-2021-012

Scope and Contents

An artificial collection of photographic image capture, processing, developing and printing format samples, assembled to aid in the study of the history and practice of photography.

Represented are photographs which demonstrate a variety of photographic structures (one-, two, and three-layer images on supporting material); photographs on assorted supports (metal, glass, plastic, paper) with various binders (albumen, gelatin) and light sensitive materials (metal salts, pigments, dyes); as well as photographs in different physical and optical formats (cased, card mounted, positives and negatives).

The collection also contains complementary material, including a selection of photographic accessories such as format and process identification aids, a darkroom guide, dry plate boxes and processing envelopes.


  • 1840-2021

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publications or distribution.


Capturing an image using light sensitive chemical compounds is the essence of the practice of photography. From its traditional beginnings with daguerreotypes and salted paper prints in 1839, photographers, scientists and hobbyists have tinkered with processes to create a photograph. This collection explores the resulting photographic prints, and attempts to gather samples of the most common formats from the 1840s to the present. While not every possible process or technique is represented, this is a comprehensive and thorough gathering of print formats. Processes and techniques available range from early 19th century photographs to the ubiquitous silver gelatin prints from the mid 20th century, with some representation of photomechanical prints and late 20th and early 21st century digital prints.


112+ items (3 boxes) : photographs

Language of Materials



An artificial collection of photographic format samples, assembled to aid in the study of the history and practice of photography.


While a study photography collection may be arranged in different ways, by physical or chemical properties, or by chronology, this collection is arranged as a series of sets of study prints, grouped by set creator. Further, a comparative material series contains assessment tools and samples for further study of photography and photographic materials.

This collection is arranged in 5 series:

  1. Series 1 contains sets of sample photographs to accompany a periodic workshop "Care and Identification of Photographs," taught by Gawain Weaver.
  2. Series 2 contains sample photographs acquired in 2021 from the Stichting Behoud Moderne Kunst (SBMK or Foundation for the Conservation of Contemporary Art).
  3. Series 3 contains samples gathered by CSWR staff from undocumented sources as well as deaccessions of duplicates and out-of-scope material from donations.
  4. Series 4 contains complementary materials related to photography and photographic printing, including a Kodak Darkroom Data Guide and Graphics Atlas assessment tools to help identify photographic processes, dry plate boxes and processing envelopes.
  5. Series 5 contains sample photographs and corresponding technical information was produced by the Photographic Materials Group (PMG, of the American Institute of Conservation) in 2009.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved with Pictorial Collections
Finding Aid of the Formats of Photography Study Collection
Cindy Abel Morris
© 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131