Book review: Darwin’s Camera, by Phillip Prodger

Book cover: Darwin's Camera, by Phillip ProdgerDarwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution
Phillip Prodger
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009

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This book is a really interesting read, looking into the history of photography and how it came to be used in scientific publishing as well as providing insight into the diverse interests of Charles Darwin. It shows a unique approach to Darwin’s work that examines one of the first photographically illustrated science books and reveals previously unknown information about Darwin’s interest in photography and art.

It contains reproductions of many photographs owned by Darwin and never before seen by the public, the most remarkable series of images are those made by Adrian Tournachon for the neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne and the ‘re-enactments’ by Oscar Rejlander made specifically for Darwin. The former, now famous in the annals of history of both photography and science, were made by stimulating the subject’s facial muscles with electrodes to simulate key expressions – terror, horror, and so forth.

Visit the library to borrow this book.