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Frames of Reference; Observations on Photography

Part of New Television Workshop.


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Frames of Reference
Observations on Photography
Series Description

“Frames of Reference” was a series that began circa 1978. Half-hour shows were produced to showcase commissioned and already created works. It was around this time that the focus of the Workshop shifted, to concentrate more heavily on creating works for broadcast. During its time, “Frames of Reference” was the focus of the Workshop’s national arts programming effort. In an attempt to raise funds and foster collaboration, Workshop personnel approached and visited several public television stations nationwide. The major collaborative relationship was with WGBH’s “sister station,” WGBY (Springfield, Mass.). Among the featured artists were Meredith Monk, Remy Charlip, Trisha Brown, and Peter Campus. In 1981, “Frames of Reference” was packaged and offered to PBS, during what is known as “flex time” and was broadcast by WGBH, WNET (New York), and WGBY (Springfield, Mass.). “Frames of Reference” ended as a series ca. 1983, because of a lack of funding. Series release date: 1978

Program Description

In “Observations on Photography,” host and “talent” Midge Graves looks at the role played by photography in what was described as a “soft essay.” Graves tries her own hand at photography and examines antique photographs at a flea market. Still photographs by artists including Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, and Dorothea Lange are presented with text by each about the art of photography. Graves interviews two artists -- Jerry Liebmann and Peter Hoving. Liebmann goes on location to shoot older men playing handball and shows Graves samples of his photographs of corpses used in medical school. Peter Hoving, a photographer and filmmaker, shows a video work called “Moments,” which consists of street scenes that are arrested by the creation of “stills” in the editing process.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Documentaries and factual works
Film and Television
Tappan, Olivia (Producer)
Barzyk, Fred (Producer and Director)
Liebmann, Jerry ()
Hoving, Peter ()
Graves, Midge ()
Chicago: “Frames of Reference; Observations on Photography,” 06/15/1979, GBH Archives, accessed April 20, 2024,
MLA: “Frames of Reference; Observations on Photography.” 06/15/1979. GBH Archives. Web. April 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Frames of Reference; Observations on Photography. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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