Cover for FINNEGAN: Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

Photographic Presidents

Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital

Defining the Chief Executive via flash powder and selfie sticks

Lincoln’s somber portraits. Lyndon Johnson’s swearing in. 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. Throughout history, presidents have actively participated in all aspects of photography, not only by sitting for photos but by taking and consuming them. Cara A. Finnegan ventures from a newly discovered daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams to Barack Obama’s selfies to tell the stories of how presidents have participated in the medium’s transformative moments. As she shows, 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.

An original journey through political history, Photographic Presidents reveals the intertwined evolution of an American institution and a medium that continues to define it.


"Captivating . . . . Broad in scope and rich in anecdotal detail, this will please photography and history buffs." --Publishers Weekly

"Informative, knowledgeable, and enjoyable . . . . Photographic Presidents is a valuable addition to presidential history." --Foreword Reviews

"A valuable resource for students of both American politics and the history of photography." --Booklist

"Today, the camera, the press, and the presidency are inextricably linked. But how did we get here and, more importantly, how does that evolution inform the present visual and rhetorical landscape? Based on her longstanding research, writing, and commentary as a 'presidential visual scholar,' there is no one better equipped to compose this picture than Cara Finnegan. This narrative weaves the evolution of a technology, a communications medium, and the highest office in the land into a vivid historical panorama. In current times, in an atmosphere in which visual politics can be all too affecting and effecting, Photographic Presidents places the visual presidency into a necessary frame."--Michael Shaw, publisher, Reading the Pictures

Open Access Edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Cara A. Finnegan is a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of Making Photography Matter: A Viewer’s History from the Civil War to the Great Depression and Picturing Poverty: Print Culture and FSA Photographs.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/93cpx6fr9780252043796.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Citizen Spielberg - Cover
Citizen Spielberg

2nd Edition

Lester D. Friedman

Television and the Afghan Culture Wars - Cover
Television and the Afghan Culture Wars

Brought to You by Foreigners, Warlords, and Activists

Wazhmah Osman

Community-Centered Journalism - Cover
Community-Centered Journalism

Engaging People, Exploring Solutions, and Building Trust

Andrea Wenzel

Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr. - Cover
Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.

Popular Black History in Postwar America

E. James West

Fighting Visibility - Cover
Fighting Visibility

Sports Media and Female Athletes in the UFC

Jennifer McClearen

Graphic News - Cover
Graphic News

How Sensational Images Transformed Nineteenth-Century Journalism

Amanda Frisken

Journalism and Jim Crow - Cover
Journalism and Jim Crow

White Supremacy and the Black Struggle for a New America

Edited by Kathy Roberts Forde and Sid Bedingfield

Pleasure in the News - Cover
Pleasure in the News

African American Readership and Sexuality in the Black Press

Kim Gallon

Making Photography Matter - Cover
Making Photography Matter

A Viewer's History from the Civil War to the Great Depression

Cara A. Finnegan

The Huawei Model - Cover
The Huawei Model

The Rise of China's Technology Giant

Yun Wen

Front Pages, Front Lines - Cover
Front Pages, Front Lines

Media and the Fight for Women's Suffrage

Edited by Linda Steiner, Carolyn Kitch, and Brooke Kroeger