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About the project

After the Second World War, the four Allied occupying powers set up photographic services in Austria in order to document, in pictures, the war damage and reconstruction. The photographic material was made available to the illustrated press in Austria. The most influential picture service was run by the Americans under the leadership of the press photographer Yoichi Okamoto, who – according to one of the central hypotheses of the project – trained his Austrian staff in modern Life photography. Yet hardly any information exists on the protagonists of Austrian press photography in the immediate post-war era. The proposed research project seeks to close this gap in the research: for the first time, all the staff of the Allied picture services as well as freelance Austrian press photographers active in this period will be identified, the organisational structures of the photographic services will be described, the interplay between national and international picture agencies will be documented, and the channels of distribution for press photography will be analysed.

The proposed research is located at the interface between different disciplines such as media and communication studies, history, cultural studies, semiotics and art history. Approaches from modern journalism research and cultural semiotics will be synthesised to create a method that can deal simultaneously with organisational structures, active participants and photographic-journalistic products. This multiperspectival strategy also corresponds to the proposed combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. The research project sees itself as a contribution to pictorial culture in Austria after 1945. Through its networked approach, it will enable new insights to be gained in the historical research of press photography.


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