White gloved hands hold a series of black and while photos depicting the insides of a large field camera

Hillman Photography Initiative

The Hillman Photography Initiative connects Carnegie Museum of Art with audiences to exchange new ideas about photography. By collaborating with individuals in and beyond the museum, the Initiative provides opportunities to experience innovative photography onsite and online.

What does the future of photography look like?

The Hillman Photography Initiative is an incubator for new art and ideas rooted in photography and responsive to society at large. The Initiative presents a series of programs over two-year cycles centered around a concept or theme in photography. To ensure the inclusion of diverse perspectives, museum staff invite a small group of external advisors to collaborate and devise a platform for innovative projects.

Since its inception in 2013, the Hillman Photography Initiative has produced dynamic new artworks, exhibitions, publications, online experiences, and conversations transforming our relationship to the photographic medium.

Mirror with a Memory


How are images being utilized to gather data on our daily activities? With the development and advancement of artificial intelligence, there has been a radical change in the way surveillance systems capture, categorize, and synthesize photographs. Mirror with a Memory explores the worlds of AI, photography, and surveillance—their past, present, and future—to underscore concerns about implicit bias, right to privacy, and police monitoring embedded in corporate, military, and law enforcement applications.

Learn more about the Hillman Photography Initiative’s Mirror with a Memory project.



How can we employ the essential elements of photography to create a new definition of the medium? At its most basic, photography records light over time to create an image. But what if we use it to record light over time to create something different? These four artist projects, as well as the Light Clock on the museum’s front plaza, push the envelope on what is photographic. With this new definition, photography becomes a springboard to investigate and participate in contemporary social issues.

Learn more about the Hillman Photography Initiative’s Lightime project.

Lifecycle of Images


What is the lifecycle of an image—from creation and transmission to consumption, storage, potential loss, and reemergence? We live in a world of image sharing, and these four projects investigate the boundaries and possibilities of photography through the ways it is circulated. Technology accelerates this circulation, and often alters or redirects the trajectory of an image in unexpected, powerful ways.

Learn more about the Hillman Photography Initiative’s Lifecycle of Images project at nowseethis.org.


Generous support for the Hillman Photography Initiative is provided by the William Talbott Hillman Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.