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John Quincy Adams was the first president of whom we have surviving photos. His picture was taken in 1843, two decades after his presidency ended. The picture was made with daguerreotype, the first photographic technique to be made available to the public.

The picture was the beginning of a stormy two-century relationship between the president and the camera. It includes Lincoln’s somber portraits, Lyndon Johnson’s swearing in, and George W. Bush’s reaction to learning about the 9/11 attacks. Photography plays an indelible role in how we remember and define American presidents.

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Today’s guest is Cara Finnegan, author of the book “Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital.”She argues that throughout history, presidents have actively participated in all aspects of photography, not only by sitting for photos but by taking and consuming them. Technological developments not only changed photography, but introduced new visual values that influence how we judge an image. At the same time, presidential photographs—as representations of leaders who symbolized the nation—sparked public debate on these values and their implications.

Cite This Article
"U.S. Presidents and Their 160-Year Love/Hate Relationship With the Camera" History on the Net
© 2000-2024, Salem Media.
April 13, 2024 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/u-s-presidents-and-their-160-year-love-hate-relationship-with-the-camera>
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