Payne 1.20 CMCP NGC 65-8688 275h

The Official Picture: The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division and the Image of Canadian Nationhood, 1941-1971

Friday, 1 November 2013, at 18:30
Concordia University, EV-1.605 (map)

Carol Payne

Department of Art History, Carleton University

The National Film Board of Canada’s Still Photography Division was the country’s official photographer during the mid twentieth century producing a governmentally endorsed portrait of the nation, an 'official picture' of Canada. Though long overshadowed by the NFB’s cinematic productions, Division photographers shot some of this country’s most dynamic media photographs of the time. In images of WWII munitions workers, the country’s dramatic scenery, and in thousands of portraits of Canadians, the Division sought to foster a sense of national cohesion. Millions of Canadians (and international audiences) saw Division photographs in newspapers, magazines, and the Board’s own books, exhibitions, and filmstrips. Carol Payne’s lecture will introduce this long neglected agency, recounting the story of the Still Photography Division’s role in Canadian nation building during the Second World War and the two decades that followed. At the same time, looking back over the Division’s history provides an opportunity to consider where the history of photography in Canada stands today.

This lecture, co-sponsored by McGill-Queen's University Press, also marks the release of Carol Payne’s book, The Official Picture.

Carol Payne
is Associate Professor of Art History at Carleton University and a research associate of the university’s Public History program. In addition to The Official Picture: The National Film Board of Canada's Still Photography Division and the Image of Canada, 1941-1971, she is coeditor with Andrea Kunard of The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada (MQUP, 2011) and author of numerous essays on photography, from the historic to the contemporary. She is currently principal investigator of the photo-based oral history project Views from the North: Photo-based Learning with Inuit Elders and Youth, a collaboration with the Ottawa-based Inuit school Nunavut Sivuniksavut, Library and Archives Canada, and Carleton University’s Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre.

Image: Ted Grant, Grey Cup Game, Toronto, November 1965, No.65-8688, National Film Board Still Photography Collection, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, National Gallery of Canada.

Of Related Interest:

Carol Payne’s Carleton University Faculty page

The Official Picture

Views from the North (please use Firefox)

Views from the North on CBC's The National

MQUP FB Event page