Building Meaning in Digitized Photographs

Paul Conway


This paper explores how visual meaning is built through the transformation of photographic images from analog (prints or negatives) to digital bitmaps. The paper frames the issue of digitization of photographs and their use in digital humanities scholarship within varying theoretical perspectives on visual representation. The paper incorporates a model that describes how digitization procedures (guidelines and best practices) express the intentions of the digitizer. It illustrates the mechanisms at play in digital collection building, particularly the extent to which technical decisions regarding image quality affect the digital representations of original photographic resources in ways that may be detectable and important to digital humanities scholars. The paper concludes with implications for digital humanities scholarship of using general-purpose Image Digital Archives.

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