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Photography and Modernity in the Ottoman Empire 1840-1914

From the start, portraits have been one of the main concerns of photography. For obvious reasons of cost and availability, the genre spread slowly from the privileged elite to the lower classes. The Sultan and his family, statesmen, and grandees were clearly overrepresented, as were the rich over the poor, townsmen over peasants, men over women, and adults over children. By the turn of the century, however, portrait photography had become accessible enough to embrace a much broader spectrum of society. A major turning point was the beginning of the widespread use of photography as a means of identification and control. Mug shots of convicts, group photographs of students, and portraits of bank employees signaled the inversion of the process from privilege to obligation.