Carleton College Professor John Schott is Executive Producer of New PBS Documentary on 100 Years of Photography

The role of photography in the personal lives and public history of 20th-century America and the profound impact photographs have had on every aspect of life will be the focus of “American Photography: A Century of Images,” a new PBS documentary executive produced by John Schott, the James W. Strong Professor of the Liberal Arts at Carleton College.

6 October 1999 Posted In:

The role of photography in the personal lives and public history of 20th-century America and the profound impact photographs have had on every aspect of life will be the focus of “American Photography: A Century of Images,” a new PBS documentary executive produced by John Schott, the James W. Strong Professor of the Liberal Arts at Carleton College.

The three-hour series will be broadcast as a special single-evening event on KTCA-Channel 2, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 1999, from 8 to 11 p.m. KTCA will repeat the program on Sunday, Oct. 17, from 1 to 4 p.m. (Check local listings for air times in other areas of the country)

The series will examine the power of the photographic image and the ways it has affected us, from how we remember our past, choose our leaders,
and catch criminals, to what we wear, what we buy, how we get the news, and our perceptions of war and peace, medicine and science. The program includes between 700 and 1,000 images that document a century of change in America, such as the first fragile image taken of the Earth from space, glamorous photographs of the latest fashions, a look at a Depression-era bread line, and powerful war images.

The idea for the series came from Schott, who has taught at Carleton since 1978 and is the director of its media studies program. “I wanted to look
at photography in a different way, not so much in terms of the technology of photography, or the history of individual photographers, but more in
terms of its social impact,” Schott said. The documentary, produced by KTCA in association with Middlemarch Films, Inc., will focus on four of
photography’s many roles in society: As a recorder of public events, a family historian, a vehicle of artistic expression, and a tool for influencing
public opinion.

The documentary approaches the topic chronologically, with three one-hour parts: “The Developing Image, 1900-1934”; “The Photographic Age,
1935-1959″; and “Photography Transformed, 1960-1999.” Each part is made up of 12 to 15 segments that address an important event or theme in the development of photography in this century, such as the invention of the snapshot and the importance of the family photograph, the developing
picture press, crime photographs, images of war, photography’s role in social reform, advertising, fashion, art, the Civil Rights movement, Presidential politics, digital photography and more.

“In a three-hour series, you can’t tell the entire history,” Schott said. “Rather, we’ve chosen what we think are compelling stories that suggest the great sweep of photography in our century.”

An illustrated companion book, “American Photography: A Century of Images,” authored by the series’ key academic advisors, Vicki Goldberg and Robert Silberman, will be published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco, in conjunction with the premiere of the documentary. The book will be
available for purchase at the Carleton Bookstore, 507-646-4153.