Best Photography Essays and Philosophy Books

1. Why People Photograph

by Robert Adams

"At our best and most fortunate we make pictures because of what stands in front of the camera, to honor what is greater and more interesting than we are." --Robert Adams Text and essays by Robert Adams. Paperback, 5.5 x 8.25 in./189 pgs Adams, a noted photographer of the American West, dislikes words that describe pictures. In this collection of poetic, thought-provoking and highly original essays, he examines Paul Strand's devotion to America and…»

2. Classic Essays on Photography

by Alan Trachtenberg

Containing 30 essays that embody the history of photography, this collection includes contributions from Niepce, Daguerre, Fox, Talbot, Poe, Emerson, Hine, Stieglitz, and Weston, among others.»

3. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

by Roland Barthes

This personal, wide-ranging, and contemplative volume--and the last book Barthes published--finds the author applying his influential perceptiveness and associative insight to the subject of photography. To this end, several black-and-white photos (by the likes of Avedon, Clifford, Hine, Mapplethorpe, Nadar, Van Der Zee, and so forth) are reprinted throughout the text.»

4. After Photography

by Fred Ritchin

In the tradition of John Berger and Susan Sontag, Fred Ritchin analyzes photographyâÄôs failings and reveals untapped potentials for this evolving medium. One of our most influential commentators on photography investigates the future of visual media as the digital revolution transforms images, changing the way we conceptualize the world. From photos of news events taken on cell phones to the widespread use of image surveillance, digital media has…»

5. On Photography

by Susan Sontag

Winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award for Criticism.One of the most highly regarded books of its kind, On Photography first appeared in 1977 and is described by its author as âÄúa progress of essays about the meaning and career of photographs.âÄù It begins with the famous âÄúIn PlatoâÄôs CaveâÄùessay, then offers five other prose meditations on this topic, and concludes with a fascinating and far-reaching âÄúBrief Anthology of Quotations.âÄù »

6. Photography and Philosophy: Essays on the Pencil of Nature

by Scott Walden

This anthology offers a fresh approach to the philosophical aspects of photography. The essays, written by contemporary philosophers in a thorough and engaging manner, explore the far-reaching ethical dimensions of photography as it is used today. A first-of-its-kind anthology exploring the link between the art of photography and the theoretical questions it raises Written in a thorough and engaging manner Essayists are all contemporary philosophers who…»

7. The Civil Contract of Photography

by Ariella Azoulay

In this groundbreaking work, Ariella Azoulay provides a compelling rethinking of the political and ethical status of photography. In her extraordinary account of the "civil contract" of photography, she thoroughly revises our understanding of the power relations that sustain and make possible photographic meanings. Photography, she insists, must be thought of and understood in its inseparability from the many catastrophes of recent history. Azoulay argues…»

8. Between The Eyes: Essays On Photography And Politics

by John Berger, David Levi Strauss

David Levi Strauss is a writer whose visual and intellectual sensibilities are both acute and expansive. His trenchant writings on photography and photographers have been collected for this volume from a broad range of magazines, including Aperture, Artforum, and The Nation. In Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics, Strauss tackles subjects as diverse as "Photography and Propaganda," the imagery of dreams, Sebastião Salgado's epic social…»

9. God Is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art

by Jan Phillips

Amateurs and professionals alike can discover photography's power to soothe and mend the broken wing of the spirit. Wieht personal stories, commentary, and practical exercises, Jan Phillips helps us see how images can give shape to our half-articulated feelings, shed light on our inner darkness, and reveal our deepest, truest self.»

10. The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers

by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson's indelible writings on photography and photographers have been published sporadically over the past forty-five years. His essays--several of which have never before been translated into English--are collected here for the first time. The Mind's Eye features Cartier-Bresson's famous text on "the decisive moment" as well as his observations on Moscow, Cuba, and China during turbulent times. These essays ring with the same immediacy and…»

11. Photography Degree Zero: Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida

by Geoffrey Batchen

Roland Barthes's 1980 book Camera Lucida is perhaps the most influential book ever published on photography. The terms studium and punctum, coined by Barthes for two different ways of responding to photographs, are part of the standard lexicon for discussions of photography; Barthes's understanding of photographic time and the relationship he forges between photography and death have been invoked countless times in photographic discourse; and the current…»

12. Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values

by Robert Adams

The eight essays in Beauty in Photography provide a critical appreciation of photography by one of its foremost proponents. The result is a rare book of criticism, alive to the pleasure and mysteries of true exploration. Essays by Robert Adams. Paperback, 5.5 x 8.25 in./112 pgs»

13. The Meaning of Photography

by Robin Kelsey, Blake Stimson

With essays by Geoffrey Batchen, François Brunet, Mary Ann Doane, José Luis Falconi, Robin Kelsey, Douglas R. Nickel, Blake Stimson, and John Tagg, and additional contributions by Lars Kiel Bertelsen, Anne McCauley, Jorge Ribalta, John Roberts, Eric Rosenberg, Eric C. Shiner, and Bernd Stiegler Photo essays by Sharon Harper, Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault, Fiona Tan, and Akram Zaatari How can we write the histories of photography? How should art history…»

14. The Disciplinary Frame: Photographic Truths and the Capture of Meaning

by John Tagg

Photography can seem to capture reality and the eye like no other medium, commanding belief and wielding the power of proof. In some cases, a photograph itself is attributed the force of the real. How can a piece of chemically discolored paper have such potency? How does the meaning of a photograph become fixed? In The Disciplinary Frame, John Tagg claims that, to answer these questions, we must look at the ways in which all that frames photographyâÄîthe…»

15. Towards a Philosophy of Photography

by Vilem Flusser, Vil¿m Flusser

Media philosopher Vilém Flusser proposed a revolutionary new way of thinking about photography. An analysis of the medium in terms of aesthetics, science and politics provided him with new ways of understanding both the cultural crises of the past and the new social forms nascent within them. Flusser showed how the transformation of textual into visual culture (from the linearity of history into the two-dimensionality of magic) and of industrial into post-…»

16. Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography

by Geoffrey Batchen

"Given its ambitious and groundbreaking scope, Burning with Desire is bound to become the touchstone for any further consideration of the topic of photography's invention." -- Douglas R. Nickel, Assistant Curator of Photography, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art In an 1828 letter to his partner, Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Daguerre wrote, "I am burning with desire to see your experiments from nature." In this book, Geoffrey Batchen analyzes the desire to…»

17. Mirrors of Memory: Freud, Photography, and the History of Art

by Mary Bergstein

Photographs shaped the view of the world in turn-of-the-century Central Europe, bringing images of everything from natural and cultural history to masterpieces of Greek sculpture into homes and offices. Sigmund Freud's library--no exception to this trend--was filled with individual photographs and images in books. According to Mary Bergstein, these photographs also profoundly shaped Freud's thinking in ways that were no less important because they may have…»

18. Disappearing Witness: Change in Twentieth-Century American Photography

by Gretchen Garner

American photographers documented and defined the twentieth century in a remarkable array of images, the style and content of which evolved dramatically over the course of the century. In Disappearing Witness, photographer and art historian Gretchen Garner chronicles this transformation, from the introduction of the 35-millimeter camera in the 1920s to the digital photography of today. Accompanied by over 125 key works in the history of photography--fine-…»

19. Photography in 100 Words: Exploring the Art of Photography with Fifty of its Greatest Masters

by David Clark

The question 'What is photography?' is not an easy one to answer. Many thousands of words have been written in an effort to do so, in academic journals and in books by cultural commentators such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes. If we acknowledge that it is impossible to provide a definitive answer, can we at least distil the meaning of photography into somewhat fewer words, and get to the very essence of the medium without diminishing its importance as…»

20. Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present

by Vicki Goldberg

This useful collection includes over a century of the very best writing on photography. Vicki Goldberg has brought together more than 75 essays and excerpts that cover a vast and provocative range of topics. We have the first-hand accounts of photographers, from Fox Talbot to Alfred Stieglitz to Ansel Adams, and the thoughts of leading critics and philosophers, from Baudelaire to George Bernard Shaw to Susan Sontag. Some of the pieces illuminate important…»

21. After Photography

by Fred Ritchin

A fascinating look at the perils and possibilities of photography in a digital age. After Photography examines the myriad ways in which the digital revolution has fundamentally altered the way we receive visual information, from photos of news events taken by ordinary people on cell phones to the widespread use of image surveillance. In a world beset by critical problems and ambiguous boundaries, Fred Ritchin argues that it is time to begin energetically…»

22. Philosophy of Photography

by Henri Van Lier

Henri Van Lier's contribution to the field of photography is comparable in its scope and achievements to the work of those thinkers who have been most useful to our understanding of the art form: Walter Benjamin, Andre Bazin, Andre Malraux, John Berger, Susan Sontag, and Roland Barthes. The English publication of Philosophy of Photography will bring Van Lier into the spotlight. In his profoundly original and innovative reflection on the medium, Van Lier…»

23. Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870

by Sandra S. Phillips, Simon Baker, Richard B. Woodward

Since the rise of the photographic medium in the late 19th century, people have been fascinated by the cameraâÄôs ability to record striking moments both public and private. From Mathew BradyâÄôs haunting images of the Civil War to the present day paparazziâÄôs brand of voyeurism-for-hire, photography has long served to capture not only the posed portrait but also the personal, the intimate, the unexpected, and the taboo. This fascinating book examines the ways…»

24. At the Edge of the Light: Thoughts on Photography and Photographers, on Talent and Genius

by David Travis

David Travis, the Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, is among the select few whose views on the subject are in focus and worth a close look. He has lived, breathed, and contemplated photographs for the past three decades and is among the small number of critics and writers whose knowledge of art, technique, and history (not to mention linguistics, mathematics, poetry, and philosophy) has enabled him to transcend the typical blather…»

25. Inside the Photograph

by Peter Bunnell

Now available in paperback! Peter C. Bunnell has been a major force in shaping the discourse about photography. During his 30-some years as an influential professor and curator at Princeton University, he has written extensively. This classic collection of texts, available for the first time in paperback and selected from work published throughout his career, makes a significant contribution to the field that he has helped to establish. In each of the 34…»

26. The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era

by William J. Mitchell

"An intelligent and readable approach to the digitization of images. . . . A useful overview of a critical subject." -- New York Times Book Review Enhanced? Or faked? Today the very idea of photographic veracity is being radically challenged by the emerging technology of digital image manipulation and synthesis: photographs can now be altered at will in ways that are virtually undetectable, and photorealistic synthesized images are becoming increasingly…»

27. The Power of Photography: How Photographs Changed Our Lives

by Vicki Goldberg

Photographs have the power to reveal, to condemn, to celerbrate and to catalyze. How that power has been used and abused is the subject of this book. Photography has created a communal memory bank, shared by all the citizens of the world with access to newspapers, books and magazines. From the first X-ray to the first view of earth from space, photographic images have made a difference in how we perceive our world. Governments have used photographs to spy…»

28. Vicki Goldberg: Light Matters

by Vicki Goldberg

Vicki Goldberg, one of the leading voices in the field of photography criticism, is well known for her cogent and perceptive writing, which is regularly featured in such national publications as the New York Times, American Photographer, and Vanity Fair. Aperture's Vicki Goldberg: Light Matters gathers for the first time a selection of this remarkable author's essays and criticism, culled from her writings published over the past twenty-five years.…»

29. Talking Photography: Viewpoints on the Art, Craft and Business

by Frank Riper

In this volume, "Washington Post" photography columnist Frank Van Riper assembles a selection of photographic insights from his columns. A photographer and writer, he seeks to inform and entertain readers with vignettes on the art, craft and business of photography. Chapters include answers to basic and rarely-addressed technical questions, from shooting pictures under fluorescent light to defending oneself against bloodthirsty mosquitoes; cutting-edge…»