It is a measure of Mr. Bunnell’s success that today photography is unquestionably accepted as both a fine art and a discipline worthy of historical scholarship. Things were different in the late 1950s, when he entered college: He had to struggle to find professors, let alone programs, that took the subject seriously.
“There were lots of schools where you could learn to take pictures,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1972. “But despite a growing awareness of still photography’s importance, there was no program anywhere to study its aesthetics and history.”
At Yale University, he was the first student in the art history department to work on a dissertation about photography. When he moved from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to Princeton, in 1972, he assumed the country’s first endowed chair in the history of photography.
By the time he retired, in