Resemblance did not come naturally to photography. Soon after it became a public medium in 1839, photography’s ability to produce resemblant images—and therefore portraits—was widely challenged. Proponents of photography quickly responded to those challenges by developing more complex concepts of the new medium. This article argues that photography played an important part in evolving debates on resemblance. It also maintains that resemblance, far from being the “epistemological obstacle” it was deemed by theoreticians in the twentieth century, was exceptionally fertile for early photographic theory.
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