Fotoalbumo Lietuva šalis gražioji atvartas.
1960, dailininkas Vytautas Kalinauskas
Fotoalbumas Jan Bułhak. Vilniaus barokas. 2003, dailininkas
Albums: Reproduced Visions and Reality
Though the production
technology of photography albums increases, the essence of this kind
of publications remains the same. In Lithuania, the first collections
of photographs were prepared in the form of portfolio back in the 1860s
(The Albums of Vilnius). The discovery of zincography in the
early 20th century brought about the era of reproducing of photographs
The dual nature of photographic images has provided wide options for
its application. On the one hand, photographic images in their documentary
role are used as means of illustration, on the other hand, a photographic
piece of art is a vehicle of artistic expression. This gave rise to
two distinct types of photography albums (publications, reproducing
photography prints accompanied by concise text), namely iconographic
(illustrative) and art albums.
Reference type of publications illustrated with photographs serve the
informative, publicity, or even propaganda function. In Lithuania, the
first successful projects to present the history of the country in photography
albums were undertaken in the 1920s and 1930s. The soviet government
in Lithuania put no less attempts to publicize its policies. The publications
of the kind offering a unbiased perspective to the cultural history
or the life in the country were very few. A unique and never emulated
publication in the field of science is the 1987 publication by the Mokslas
Publishers, the photography album The Nature of the Soviet Union:
Landscapes, Flora and Fauna. An ingenuous concept of the book, its
thorough and scientifically sound structure, professional work by the
team of photographers, flawless design married together brought to the
publication a wide international acclaim.
It is very difficult to draw a line separating the category of photography
albums, where photography is used as a tool for illustration, and the
other one, featuring photographic prints as works of arts. The so called
coffee-table books serve a dual function. From their very conception
such books are destined to become a bate for tourists. The attempts
of the photographers to include the best shots with most scenic
views into publications, serving the image-forming, tourist information
or publicity function, often result in a flop from artistic view point.
The photography book for a photography artist is the ultimate and consummate
act of his artistic expression. The conceptually uniform totality of
his work reveals his unique voice and enables the artist establish himself
both, on contemporary art scene, and in the history. Most Lithuanian
photographers made their first appearance in periodical publications,
but as photography artists, most of them emerged first in the national
photography almanac, Lithuanian Photography, published since
1967. Eight volumes of the publication have encapsulated the development
and trends in Lithuanian photography over the soviet period. Yet, in
the case of this period, all the Glavlit supervision and
the imposed limitations with their implications have to be born in mind.
After a long intermission, the Photographers Association has renewed
the publication of the almanac, now entitled Lithuanian Photography
Yesterday and Today.
A wide thematic range of photography albums demonstrates the popularity
of the genre. Though collections of the works by different photographers
have been quite numerous, they are far from being studies of their oeuvre.
Several publishers (Baltos Lankos, The Lithuanian Art Museum, R. Paknys
Publishers) have been active in putting out publications featuring Lithuanian
The article intentionally avoids drawing parallels with Western publications
of the kind. Even though the contrast is great, the overall changes
in the field in the country are positive.