This essay explores TV photography as a common and strategic storage practice with archival implications for postwar American television. TV photography represented a type of image recording in which viewers photographed images off their TV sets, with many learning to do so via features in popular magazines and newspapers during the late 1940s and 1950s. The author begins by analyzing these postwar columns on TV photography as exercises in tinkering with and storage of the transmitted image. Tinkering with the camera offered male hobbyists one way to safely explore and control the new medium, one set in distinction from the “feminizing” activity of postwar TV viewing. As men photographed television into the 1950s, they not only remained tinkerers but also became invested viewers and custodians of stored broadcast content. Parents displayed their photos in albums ideologically linking family life with discourses of preservation, sociality, and history in 1950s America. Through these historical and ideological inflections, the archive of television photography as a practice and set of discourses articulated through the popular and trade press productively opens to further versatile explorations in the areas of artistic production, collection, and television preservation.


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pp. 59-69
Launched on MUSE
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