Woman taking selfie

Photo: Arvida Byström

The Camera and Us - Humans in Photography

The camera has changed how we look not only at ourselves but also at others. Discover almost 200 years of photographic and cultural history through the Royal Danish Library's pictures.

Ever since the invention of photography almost 200 years ago, photos of people have held a special fascination. How amazing to be able to take portraits so quickly and with such accuracy! Since then, we have grown accustomed to posing in front of the camera, and photography is firmly embedded everywhere. The camera has changed the way we look at ourselves and others.

The starting point for this exhibition is human beings in photography. Here you can browse masterpieces from the National Collection of Photography, taken by artists from Denmark and abroad, and explore how they use photography to create and play with identity. Supplemented with pictures from Det Kgl. Bibliotek's other photo collections, the works on display encompass portraits, ID and family photography, documentary photos, press and fashion photography and pornography.


A woman is sitting in profile with her head covered by a strude mask traditionally worn by women on Fanø
When the camera's lens captures us, it also captures what shows our sense of community. Many artists use photography to depict communities with everything from empathy to criticism.

Strike a pose

3 different kinds of jewellery with a photo and cut braid
We may have always tried to encapture people's likenesses in images, but it is only with photography that everyone gets the opportunity to have their portraits done.

The other half

Four black boys stand by a staircase that says "colored"
Ever since Jacob Riis photographed the poor of New York in the 1890s, photography has been used for documentary depictions of environments unfamiliar to the average citizen.