Photography connects us as people and holds the power to inspire a lifelong love of looking.

Sandra S. Phillips
Curator Emerita of Photography

Photography is a vital means of human expression. It is a creative art form as well as an omnipresent cultural force that both mirrors and shapes everyday life. This makes it a uniquely potent, complex, and thought-provoking medium.

We invite people to see and understand the world in new ways through photography, from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present day. SFMOMA was one of the first American museums to recognize photography as an art form, and its pioneering commitment continues to deepen as new generations and evolving technologies expand the definition of the medium.


Three SFMOMA curators reflect on changes in the field of photography through the lens of the museum’s photography symposia series. In 2010, SFMOMA organized Is Photography Over?, the first of three symposia made possible by the Fraenkel Gallery Fund for New Studies in Photography. It was followed by Bearing Witness (2014) and The Photographic Event (2016). Together, these programs explored issues facing the practice and perception of photography, including the rise of digital photographs, the role of museums, citizen journalism, as well as the ways that images circulate in contemporary societies.