Staging the Photographic ‘Orient’
Modern theorists of visual culture generally subscribe to the more historically grounded theory that the wider context of a photograph's creation is fundamental to gaining an understanding of its production and its ensuing impact upon a viewer. The artistic inclination of the photographer, the desire to maintain the 'Oriental' fantasy and the commercial demand for photographs of the Other, all aided in the creation of fabricated 'Oriental' photographs in the late nineteenth century, where a subject was staged to be photographed. Moving from 'art' images to commercial photography of the Other, one of the most marketable formats was the 'type photograph', depicting figures considered 'typical' of their culture, either photographed in the undertaking of an archetypal occupation or deemed just physically characteristic of the 'race'. When the British created 'type' photographs of the peoples of Other cultures they were visually establishing images that attributed to another culture chosen stereotypical attributes or activities.