View of How We Are: Photographing Britain at Tate Britain

View of this exhibition at Tate Britain
Photo: Sam Drake © Tate 2007

How We Are: Photographing Britain reveals a nation mediated through the photographer’s vision and the camera’s lens. The unique story of British photography exposes a strong social conscience, a love of the ordinary, an intense curiosity and the constant need to record.

Since the invention of the medium in the 1830s, photographers working in Britain have celebrated, and grappled with, a constantly shifting notion of British identity. The works in this exhibition capture this nation at its best and at its most troubled. They show how photographers can be opinionated, obsessive, didactic and joyous. This vast range of photographs – from family albums to studio portraits, souvenir postcards to social documents – offer an intriguing narrative of British life.

How We Are demonstrates the cyclical nature of British photography: how the innovators of the digital age are not so different from the inventors of the nineteenth century. Seen through photojournalism, portraiture, fashion and landscape photography, Britain emerges as a contradictory and remarkable place.