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philosophical texts related to photography
Old 08-19-2012   #1
arcimboldo
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philosophical texts related to photography

any suggestions?
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Old 08-19-2012   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcimboldo View Post
any suggestions?
We have a subforum for "Philosophy of photography" (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...play.php?f=136) where this is discussed

Anyway, the most common recommendation you'll get is probably Susan Sontag's "On Photography", which is IMHO a good read in so far as it talks about social context of photography and social use of images like a post-modernist contribution should, and a bad read in so far as it doesn't really talk about photography itself and her writing is not everybody's first choice.

That said, if you're interested in the social context aspect I'd probably suggest Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" and the essays on photography by Roland Barthes, and if you're interested more in approaches to image-taking itself I'd probably recommend the introduction to "The Decisive Moment" by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
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Old 08-19-2012   #3
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any suggestions?
Expensive camaras are way overrated...
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Old 08-19-2012   #4
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Here's a list of great reading material on photography.
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Old 08-19-2012   #5
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Here's a list of great reading material on photography.
That looks like a great site!
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Old 08-19-2012   #6
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Shoot 'em all and let the Editor sort 'em out.


My own personal philosophy text on photography
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Old 08-19-2012   #7
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I would recommend finding a copy of Perceptual Quotes For Photographers by Richard D. Zakia.
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Old 08-19-2012   #8
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Roland Barthes wrote a book somewhat about photography called Camera Lucida. Haven't gotten to it yet.

Less on the philosophical end I think Steven Shore's book is excellent and makes Szarkowski's "Photographer's Eye" obsolete (I have both.)

Didn't find Core Curriculum to be of much interest. The Pleasures of Good Photographs was ok though.
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Old 08-19-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jippiejee View Post
Here's a list of great reading material on photography.
Thanks for that list. I have a lot of those, but some others, I haven't heard of before and will be checking out.

Gary
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Old 08-19-2012   #10
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Quote:
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Less on the philosophical end I think Steven Shore's book is excellent and makes Szarkowski's "Photographer's Eye" obsolete (I have both.)

Didn't find Core Curriculum to be of much interest. The Pleasures of Good Photographs was ok though.
I've read that Shore actually wrote his book to augment The Photographer's Eye, which he was using in his teaching.

I think there is great stuff in both the Papageorge and the Badger books.

Gary
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Old 08-19-2012   #11
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I've read that Shore actually wrote his book to augment The Photographer's Eye, which he was using in his teaching.

I think there is great stuff in both the Papageorge and the Badger books.

Gary
Yeah Shore's book basically reiterates everything in the Photographers Eye but in a way that I recall being more succinct and also encourages you to think about it. Kind of like little koans or something.

That said, there's nothing in The Photographer's Eye that isn't in Shores book other than a lot of extra pictures laid out not very nicely.
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Old 08-19-2012   #12
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Walter Benjamin : Illuminations
Cadava; Words of Light, Which is a series of essays on Benjamin's writing about photography,
Photography: Essays and Images ;Edited by Beaumont Newhall
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Old 08-19-2012   #13
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At the risk of sounding like a joke about the nature of philosophy, what do you mean by 'related'? What do you actually want to know? Because unless you can answer that question, I'm not sure there's anything anyone can tell you about the nature of photography.

For my money, Derriere l'Objectif de Willy Ronis is a lot more about photography (and its nature) than anything Barthes or Sontag ever knew how to write.

Otherwise, I might recommend pretty much anything by John Kenneth Galbraith. I don't think he ever mentions photography as such, but he has a lot to say about the creation of wants in an affluent society. Likewise, general texts on the history of sociology are probably more use than 'philosophy of photography' texts, if you have the imagination and knowledge to apply what they say to the specific field of photography.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-19-2012   #14
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Quote:
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...

For my money, Derriere l'Objectif de Willy Ronis is a lot more about photography (and its nature) than anything Barthes or Sontag ever knew how to write.

...
Is there an english translation of that? Just checked Amazon etc to no avail.
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Old 08-19-2012   #15
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Michael Fried's 'Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before" is an interesting read although he does tend to extensively repeat the same few arguments and never really comes to a point. It's also very much focused on a specific kind of photography. However, it's written very well and contains some interesting thoughts.

Stanley Cavell's ''The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film'' (Film as in cinema) is very interesting, too.

There's actually a lot more philosophical writing about film than photography and a lot of it is applicable to both media to a certain extent.

As for the list of 'key writings' I think it should be taken with a grain of salt. I don't know all of them but from the ones I've read I can think of at least two that are in no way 'key writings'. 'Photographs not taken' is a collection of very short anectdotes by well known photographers but there's little philosophical insight. 'Photography After Frank' was pretty superficial actually so I wouldn't recommend that to anyone.
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Old 08-19-2012   #16
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Quote:
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Likewise, general texts on the history of sociology are probably more use than 'philosophy of photography' texts, if you have the imagination and knowledge to apply what they say to the specific field of photography.
I don't disagree at all but I wouldn't necessarily single out sociology. Sociology is very relevant to photography but so is art history, epistemology, ontology, semiotics, ethics, picture theories, etc. etc.
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Old 08-19-2012   #17
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gisele freund - photography and society

but that's maybe already more sociological/historical than philosophical.
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Old 08-19-2012   #18
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I don't disagree at all but I wouldn't necessarily single out sociology. Sociology is very relevant to photography but so is art history, epistemology, ontology, semiotics, ethics, picture theories, etc. etc.
We are, as so often, in complete agreement, but merely phrasing the argument slightly differently. I singled out sociology on the sole ground of accessibility.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-19-2012   #19
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Shoot 'em all and let the Editor sort 'em out.


My own personal philosophy text on photography

That is so cool!!! Wish I had thought of it!!!
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Old 08-19-2012   #20
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In addition of those listed above (and on the site linked earlier), here are some others that may be of interest to the OP. These are drawn from a whole range of disciplines (philosophy, history, art criticism, sociology) and not all of them are strictly limited to photography, but often deal more broadly with images. Some of these I've read, others I own but haven't had the time to read, others I have not yet purchased, but plan to.

John Dewey. _Art as Experience_

Pierre Bourdieu, _Photography: A Middle-Brow Art_

Mary Price, _The Photograph: A Strange Confined Space_

John V. Kulvicki, _On Images: Their Structure and Content_

John Berger, _Ways of Seeing_

Robert Adams, _Beauty in Photography_

Berger and Mohr, _Another Way of Telling_

Vartanian, ed. _Setting Sun: Writings by Japanese Photographers_

Geoffrey Batchen. _Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History_

Geoffrey Batchen. _Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography_

Geoffrey Batchen. _Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida_

Georges Didi-Huberman. _Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz_

Georges Didi-Huberman. _Confronting Images: Questioning the Ends of a Certain History of Art_

Alan Trachtenberg, ed. _Classic Essays on Photography_

Jean Back and Viktoria Schmidt-Linsenhoff, _Family of Man 1955-2001: Humanism and Postmodernism: A Reappraisal of the Photo Exhibition by Edward Steichen_

John Berger (Geoff Dyer, ed.) _Selected Essays of John Berger_
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Old 08-19-2012   #21
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It may not be what you are looking for but here it goes, I think it's interesting anyway: Cartier-Bresson once said that the only book he would recomend about photography was "Zen in the Art of Archery" written by Eugen Herrigel. He is a philosopher who went to Japan to learn zen archery and speaks about his experience. Most of what HCB says about the way he shoots is very close to what this book is about.
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Old 08-19-2012   #22
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Susan Sontags 'on photography' is meant to be good.
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Old 08-19-2012   #23
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Geoffry Batchen is great, as mentioned above. Very skilled at condensing and analyzing what's been going on in photo theory since the beginning...
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Old 08-20-2012   #24
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Thank you very much! Sometimes I think aphog is dying, but the RFF is really alive.
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Old 08-20-2012   #25
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Quote:
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Susan Sontags 'on photography' is meant to be good.
The key words being "meant to be"?
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Old 08-20-2012   #26
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The key words being "meant to be"?
This reminded me of something Dorothy Parker once said:

"This is not a book to be cast aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force."

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-20-2012   #27
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Is there an english translation of that? Just checked Amazon etc to no avail.
Not that I know of. Sorry. The delay in replying has been caused by the woefully slow server lately.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-20-2012   #28
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Quote:
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This reminded me of something Dorothy Parker once said:

"This is not a book to be cast aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force."
True, but in order to hurl something with great force you first have to get a proper grasp on it
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Old 08-20-2012   #29
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True, but in order to hurl something with great force you first have to get a proper grasp on it
VERY good!

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-20-2012   #30
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I have the Fried book and also find it quite frustrating. He has an overt bent towards "tableau" photographers and tends to focus (I'm guessing) on what curators like.

Saying that, Jeff Walls' Selected articles and Interviews is also worth checking out.
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Old 08-21-2012   #31
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I have the Fried book and also find it quite frustrating. He has an overt bent towards "tableau" photographers and tends to focus (I'm guessing) on what curators like.

Saying that, Jeff Walls' Selected articles and Interviews is also worth checking out.
Yes, I totally agree, Wall has done some excellent writing (and talking) about photography.

As for Fried's bent towards 'tableau' photographs, to be fair, that's sort of what the book is about, i.e. the emergence of the 'tableau form' in photography and the impact this has had on establishing photography as an art form. Therefore it is also understandeable that he focuses on the most successful of those photographers as they have arguably had the most impact.
It is also understandeable that Fried, who's been mostly concerned with easel paintings from different periods of time and the relationship between the viewer and the painting, is especially drawn to 'tableau' photographs.

Even though his book is named 'Why photogrpahy matters as art as never before'' I would've liked it more if he had written the whole thing like an obituary.
Reading how he describes this move to the large format that began more than 20 years ago I was constantly hoping to read 'Now that that's done, let's move on.'
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Old 08-23-2012   #32
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I'm not sure I'd call it "philosophical," but I like "The Ongoing Moment" by Geoff Dyer. Dyer discusses repetition and refinement of themes and concepts in photography and his writing is quite engaging.
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