Talk by Armen T. Marsoobian


The Art and Business of Late Ottoman-Era Anatolian Photography: A Case Study of the Dildilian Brothers Art Photographers

Date: March 12, Thursday

Time: 18:30 -19:30

Venue: RCAC Auditorium

Armen T. Marsoobian
Chairperson & Professor of Philosophy
Southern Connecticut State University

Discussant: Can Nacar 
Department of History, Koç University


"Using both the written and visual archive of the Dildilian Brothers Art Photographers, I will explore a series of issues related to both the art and the business of photography in the central Anatolian cities of Sivas, Amasya, Merzifon, and Samsun. Observing the evolution of this family of Armenian photographers over the period of 1888 to 1922, I will ask a number of questions worthy of further study. While it might not be possible to generalize these questions to the activities to other photographers working in this region at that time – for aspects of the Dildilian’s photographic work may well be unique – some of the insights garnered may applicable to others. A few of the questions I will explore are: How does one begin a photography studio in a remote Anatolian city in the 1880s? Who were your customers? What were the different kinds of photographs that were taken (large format portraits, carte de visite, cabinet cards)? How and why did the family begin taking photographs for the postcard trade? What were the publishing arrangements for the postcards? Who were the customers for such cards? What was the role of landscape photography in business? What is the relation of the visual arts, in particular painting, for the work of these photographers? Other issues worthy of future exploration will be proposed, such as, the relationship between early radiology and photography, the role of photography in Ottoman officialdom and the military, and the role photographers may have played as channels for communication and information-gathering in times of war and crisis."