Between 1843 and 1914, photography became the main means of illustrating stories in the French press, paving the way for many new kinds of publications. Photographic production increased massively during this period. Photo-mechanical printing methods made it possible to combine typecast letters and silver print images and newspaper editors rushed to use this new tandem to illustrate their pages. From the magazine L’Illustration, created in 1843 to La Vie au grand air, which appeared during the Belle Époque, photography's importance increased enormously. Initially used by engravers as a basis for their drawings and not published themselves, photographs soon became the main medium for illustrating news stories. The press began using more and more photographic images. Under the guidance of artistic directors, skilled in the art of marrying words and images, picture stories began to cover newspaper pages, transforming illustrated journals into magazines. Between these two dates, the protocols of photographic illustration were established, producing a spectacular form of visual news.

Gervais, Thierry, L’Illustration photographique. Naissance du spectacle de l’information, 1843-1914, thèse de doctorat d’histoire (dir. André Gunthert, Christophe Prochasson), EHESS, 2007, 554 p. (consultable à la SFP, téléchargeable sur le site du Lhivic).

Principales publications:

  • "Les formes de l'information. De la presse illustrée aux médias modernes" (avec Gaëlle Morel), L'Art de la photographie, Paris, éd. Citadelles-Mazenod, 2007, p. 302-355.
  • La Trame des images. Histoires de l'illustration photographique (dir., avec André Gunthert), actes coll., Études photographiques, n° 20, juin 2007.
  • "L’exploit mis en page. La médiatisation de la conquête de l’air à la Belle Époque", L’Evénement. Les images comme acteurs de l’histoire (cat. exp.), Paris, Hazan, 2007, p. 60-83.
  • "D’après photographie. Premiers usages de la photographie dans le journal L’Illustration", Etudes photographiques, n° 13, mai 2003, p. 56-85.