Top positive review
28 people found this helpful
Scholarly yet accessible, part history and part theory
on 19 July 2009
I've read a lot of technical, 'how to' photography books; I've also read lots of books on composition and lighting. I am a very keen amateur photographer and I understand the techhnical bits, I was more interested in the meanings and interpretations of photographs. But I was always left wanting for a book that gave you just a little bit more than 'how to' ...
If you've ever felt the same way, there's a good chance that Clarke's book is the one that you are looking for. This could easily be used as a reference work for an undergrad degree (if not post-grad), yet it's always an easy read and interesting to pick up and browse a particular section, or just flick through the many interesting and high quality pictures. This last is something worth emphasising - this is a quality book on thick, quality paper and the picture reproduction is great.
It's just as scholarly as anything by Sontag or Barthes, but written in a much more accessible way:
"In a world dominated by visual images the photograph has become almost invisible. We take photographs, look at them endlessly, and carry them around with us so that their currency is pervasive. They are one of the most common of objects that change hands every day. And yet such a common status belies their underlying complexity and difficulty; for we are always left with the primary and shifting question: what precisely is a photograph?"
Just so you get an idea of what this book contains, the contents is as follows.
1. What is a photograph?
2. How do we read a photograph?
3. Photography and the nineteenth century
4. Landscape in photography
5. The city in photography
6. The portrait in photography
7. The body in photography
8. Documentary photography
9. The photograph as fine art
10. The photograph manipulated
11. The Cabinet of Infinite Curiosities