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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive account, 25 Oct. 2012
By 
Brian Hamilton "brianhamilton14" (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
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Its a brave author who tackles something as far-reaching as a history of photography from its humble beginnings to today's pervasive technology. Given the surfeit of images, information, technology, personalities and influence of the medium the task with such an undertaking is not what to include but what to leave out.

Admirably, the team behind this book have done a sterling job in tracing the major leaps and styles that have milestoned photography's strange and organic journey to it's present state.

I am something of a photogeek and a cognosenti of photobooks so I was pleasantly surprised to find images and information about photographers I had never heard of.

This book really only skims the surface on each topic it covers, which will come as no surprise. However, as a primer to this fantastic medium it really does give a good flavour of photography and all of its strange genres and practitioners.

If I can level one criticism it would be that there is little information on the highly influential Japanese photographers who have produced seminal works in the the post-war period onwards. Where is Moriyama and Tomatsu. However, this is perhaps a cheap blow as, inevitably, a lot of people and influences must be removed to make this book manageable.

A highly commendable effort that will interest even the seasoned veteran
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent history of photography, 24 Oct. 2012
By 
Pete Johnson "Pete Johnson" (Norfolk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
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This is a great book. It takes the story of photography from its earliest origins, and follows the various progression time lines, in just the right way. Using examples from each period, it informs on processing and composition, with just enough detail to be interesting, but not overwhelming. It also profiles the photographers and image makers, often in fascinating detail. Many of the images shown in the book will be familiar to anyone interested in the subject, or to any student of Photography. However, there are also images new to me, as well as photographers, old and new, that I had never heard of. The contributors have tackled a massive subject in one volume, so there will of course be some glaring omissions, some of which will no doubt be the subject of some debate. Considering all of this, they have done a very good job, and I cannot imagine that most readers will be disappointed. This would make a great gift for a Photography enthusiast, and I suspect that this is the market the book will be directed towards.
So, why only 4 stars? This book is not large format. It is about the size of an 8 X 10 photo, and it should have been much, much larger. The print is cramped, and small to read, and some of the images are consequently reduced in impact. I would have preferred to pay a lot more for a larger volume, of 'coffee-table' dimensions. The subject matter, and the skill that obviously went into this work, deserves a much larger window.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A photographer's "must have", 14 Aug. 2013
By 
G. Gilpin "Geoff" (Northamptonshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
This is a beautifully produced book. Like T&H's "Art - The Whole Story" (see my review) it is arranged chronologically with five sections from the early days to the present. Each section then has a time frame and a number of subsections where photographs are analysed in detail in a double-page spread (usually the subsection has a two- or four-page essay presenting the background where additional photographs are discussed). The analysis is excellent, the quality superb. My only (slight) issue is that I'd have liked more photographs and shorter discussions (as was the style with the Art volume). Unlike art, of course, photography doesn't begin until the 1820s so the history is somewhat compressed (which I don't find a bad thing).

Lots of superb photos; lots of ideas; really good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great quality at a brilliant price: Photography at your fingertips, 15 Nov. 2012
By 
Roland Cassard (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
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The title may be a little ambitious, but 'Photography: The Whole Story' is incredibly reasonably priced given how weighty it is and how many photographs it manages to include. Personally, I really loved the clean, clear layout and appreciated the double-page spreads devoted to the photographs themselves which give the photographs plenty of space and come complete with 'focal points', as the book puts it: small details taken from each shot to illustrate particular aspects of importance in each photo. The quality of the reproductions is also excellent.

The selection of images in the book was well-chosen. Yes, there are many photographs that most people interested in photography would recognise, but these share page space with names that are lesser known (at least to me). I also appreciated the fact that the book is arranged thematically as well as chronologically: I was able to dip in and read about photographic movements I didn't know or photographers of whom I was unaware and I was given a least an introduction to their style of photography. It's a great jumping-off point: if you find a photographer you particularly like, you can head off and do more research into him/her.

I can imagine this book being given a lot as a present. Certainly it's a great gift for an aspiring photographer, and it's a particularly useful reference work, as well. Most of all though, it's an enjoyable read, whether you want to learn more about the history of photography or if you just want to browse through some amazing photos for ten minutes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Big Job Well Done, 12 Nov. 2012
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
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This weighty paperback tome from Thames & Hudson sets itself a big task.
'Photography : The Whole Story' (the whole story?) is a pretty valiant
attempt to construct a historical, technical and aesthetic overview of
the subject from its infancy in the 1820's through to the present digital age.

General editor Juliet Hacking is an interesting choice of curator for the
task and what the survey lacks in structural and thematic coherence she
(and her cohorts) more than make up for in terms of its sustained grapple
with the incredibly diverse chosen representatives of this elusive art and
the attempt to situate their work within a contemporary cultural context.

The early part of the book, dealing with the early years of photography is
especially fascinating. Those first hazy images retain as much magic and pathos
now as they must have done when they first appeared to incredulous eyes!

Whilst not exhaustive in its analysis, this impressive survey is, nonetheless,
a valuable aid to understanding and appreciation. A big job well done.

Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of your better photography investments, 17 Jan. 2013
By 
M. Bhangal "S" (Somewhere in Northern England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
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A well produced and well edited book. You get a good sample of each movement and style, all viewed in the medium they were expected to be seen in: high quality print set on good quality paper.

Yes this is not the whole story, but if you are a photographer (or anyone else) looking for inspiration or simply some background history, then this is *far* more coverage than you would expect to get for the price of a lens cap or a couple of issues of a photography magazine!

As a good indication of how useful this book is as reference for potographers, take a look at the cover of this book: Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs (Voices That Matter). Picture Perfect Practice is written by a successful wedding photographer in Beverly hills, so its probably right to say he's making money because he's creating original and striking compositions...but notice any similarity between that book cover and this one? Let's hope everyone doesnt rush out to buy this book and it stays a well kept photographer's secret ;)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Academia meets the aesthetic, an excellent 'anthology' of photography., 18 Jan. 2014
By 
Gavin (Cornwall, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
Concise, and certainly not bloated as are some other 'anthologies' of photography, this is a very worthwhile contribution in an otherwise well developed genre.

It may not be the 'whole story' as claimed, but it is an informative and entertaining read, captivating one from time to time as one chances upon well-digested information one had somehow missed in other sources.

Looking through the index there is thorough coverage of much of photography, and for the price it is pretty much a 'must have'.

The only downside might be the perhaps over-zealous coverage of the early years of photography, information which is perhaps easily available elsewhere. But overall the authors have done a really good job.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic overview, 5 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
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This is not a 'how to' book, nor even a retrospective of a particular photographer's career with a 'look at me' vibe to it. Instead what we have here is a look at the history of photography, with famous images from across different genres dissected to show their meaning and the thought that went into each one beyond the simple 'make it look nice' that we amateurs tend to aim for. As someone not particularly versed in photography theory it is an invaluable resource - much more so than the technique related books I've previously purchased - not so much because it contains any copyable 'tricks' but rather because it gives one an idea of the thought processes that go into producing art through the photographic medium.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 12 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
A must have book for anyone interested in photography. It covers the history of photography through all genres. Unusually, it covers important contributions from photographers from all over the world.
There is an intorduction to each chapter and then representative photographs (mostly full page) with helpful critiques and comments. A particularly nice touch is the small naviation boxes which help one to find the place in the photograph the comment is about. Often there is a small biography of the photographer.

The book is easy to read, easy to navigate and I have learnt much from it's well written text. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite the Whole Story, 27 Oct. 2012
By 
Angus Jenkinson "angusjenkinson" (Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Photography: The Whole Story (Paperback)
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There are 1000 fine images in this book with a wealth of information and context. That is enough to make this a book to own and as I detail below, to give as a gift. What follows is a more critical consideration of the work.

Any survey of photography from its beginnings in the 19th century until today has a challenge. There is first such a mountain of images and so many different applications: art, news, science, documentary, storytelling, advertising and fashion, ethnography and social documentary, not to mention wedding, school and other rites de passage photographs and friend and family snaps. And within `art' alone there have been many different genres and schools (nudes, surrealism, portrait, landscape, nature...), styles (black and white, colour, modernist, pictorial...), techniques (gum chromate, platinum, large format, digital,...) and crossing-over between fields (fashion, street photography, news reporting, social documentary as art). Perhaps it is not surprising that despite 1000 images, this is not a work that can truly claim to be `the whole story'.

In the interests of doing so, it follows a narrative sweep of photographic history from the beginnings almost to the present day (actually the last image is from 2008). This is the primary organization of the book. There are 5 historical periods, each of which has an introduction as well as a useful `time chart' showing the topical sections and timing of key works that will follow. These topical sections (e.g. the Body, Surrealism, Portrait, Ethnography) each consists of typically two pages of introduction featuring three smaller illustrative images followed by a two page spread examining one image in the context of the photographer's work. A critical analysis and reading is given of this image, which would normally interest not only the keen photographer and also the general reader. In fact this makes a potentially good gift for many people.

This structure does have a weakness that it is hard to solve (they do their best). With so many topics within each historical period, there is a feel of chopping about very few pages from one subject to another. An approach that took a subject (like portraiture) and showed its evolution over nearly 200 years, followed by another theme treated the same way would have been less bitty. This would mean however, that different kinds of images from the same period would not be physically close to each other.

The A New History of Photography (using the RPS collection) provides a more substantial historical narrative, but with less space and consideration of individual images. Phaidon's The Photography Book, by contrast focuses on images. It offers only 500 photographs, but these are each larger than anything in Photography (there is also a cheaper mini edition in paperback The Photography Book. Phaidon is organized in alphabetical order of photographer, with contextualisation provided by referencing related photographers. There is also a considerable difference in the selected works. On a random check of 20 photographers in The Photo Book, 45% were not in Photography: The Whole Story ("PTWS"). They include Chaldev, Christenberry, EchaguŽ, Economopoulos, Delano, Franklin and Annie Liebovitz (see also below). Furthermore, even when artists are mentioned (like Rankin), there may be no image representing their work. If you just want to see a large number of important images, Phaidon may be a better choice for you. On the other hand, there are photographers and images here in PTWS that are not in Phaidon, of course, such as Alberto Korda and his iconic Che Guevara picture.

Dorothea Lange's famous picture of the Migrant Mother, Nipomo, from 1936 provides an interesting contrast. First in reproduction. Pahidon has the better print; it is slightly more contrasty and the flesh texture and detail is more clear. PTWS has a slightly washed out forearm, for example. Phaidon take it for granted that we know about the Depression and what the Farm Security Administration did (a major documentary project). But they make a strong remark about Lange's aesthetic: "[she] shows herself to be a realist, holding to the idea that one understands and sympathizes with other people more through physical contact than through analysis". It also tells us that the mother had just sold her tires to buy food and was living with her children on frozen vegetables from the fields. PTWS by contrast gives us some useful insights - the stitching of the tent that shows their dislocation, the dirty fingernails that express hardship. It also denigrates LAnge, telling us that the mother complained later that her image treated her as poor. But of course she was. PTWS tells us that Lange "cast the mother as a Madonna", a symbol from "a tradition that might have been different from her own beliefs". It is salutary to recollect Lange's own realist approach in contrast with this later ideological reading.

Such an approach is not uncommon in PTWS. A consideration of Sander's famous `Young Farmers' image is telling. (It is also worth asking why the same image appears again and again. Sure it is famous, but this is partly because we never see most of the others.) Phaidon provides no image analysis, only contextualizing it against the rest of his work (briefly). By contrast, PTWS provides a more analytic art-historical description but arguably misses the essential point of the image (which is that these 3 men are meant to represent a type but actually appear as individuals and it is their individuality in this and the rest of Sander's ethnographic series that makes it so powerful). And to my mind PTWS intrudes with a reading that is arguably projected rather than present in the original ("The young man's nonchalance reads as a desire to leave behind his - and his country's - agrarian roots"). This is not always the case though and every page adds something of interest.
This gets particularly difficult in the tradition of nude photography. Nude art is in something of a crisis anyway, as another recent book, The Naked Nude, illustrates. Consider the series `The World's Top Photographers' by RotoVision and their genre edition on Nudes. A quick check shows that most do not make it into PTWS (including Von Gloeden, Rheims, Haskins, Argentini, Gibson, Farber, Mona Kuhn, Peter and Greg Gorman, Kenro Izu, and Christian Vogt) or do not feature images )like Rankin).

Another image in both this and Phaidon is Robert Frank's Parade, Haboken, New Jersey, featuring the US flag (stars and stripes) blowing across two windows. Phaidon add a telling remark: "National emblems may provide a focus; but they also stand in the way of seeing".

A welcome addition to the photography world. Not the Whole Story.
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