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On photography by Susan Sontag

On photography (1977)

by Susan Sontag

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English (16)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (19)
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This is a collection of related essays, on the topic of photography. Photography as a practice, as an art, as a cultural phenomenon. It was written 40 years ago, and for that reason I could not help but wonder the entire time I was reading it, what on earth would this author think now? With all but the most rudimentary mobile phones having photographic capability, the practice of capturing images (let alone the display of them) is becoming ubiquitous.

Sontag takes a critical view of the proliferation of photography. The higher and higher ownership of cameras, the way cameras dictate the scene and become the focus of an event, the way photography has become art, the voyeuristic nature of it, the removed and passive way images can be 'taken' of people with or without their knowledge. It does go on and on and felt at times like a rant, however intellectually presented. And given that I have a problem with the way art is discussed already- some pretty far fetched things are assumed by the reviewers and the art crowd- I found the musings on whether or not photography should/could be art, rather....well, pointless. (My answer would be yes, its art, but let's not make a big deal of it.)

But, it presented some great starting points for thinking about how cameras and photos have and are changing our lives. In spite of being rather a critical observer myself, I found myself starting to stick up for photography and its value and promise. I look forward to reading her follow-up from this one, Regarding the Pain of Others, where I might find some reflection on how she thinks it stood up. ( )
  Ireadthereforeiam | Dec 20, 2014 |
Excellent essays on the role of photography in society. ( )
  soulcruzer | Jan 15, 2012 |
I learned so much from this book by Susan Sontag and rank it right up there with Camera Obscura by Roland Barthes. These collected essays by Sontag draw some very interesting parallels between the works of some of history's most important and prolific photographers. These are fascinating pieces on the role and positioning of photography as an art and a method of documenting the world around us.The wonderful aspect of reading this book now is the ability to sit with laptop close at hand and actually be able to see the works of photographers she references in her essays. These certainly reinforce and support her discussions on the topic and have lead me to learn so much about these key figures in the history of photography. ( )
  peterjawilson | Oct 26, 2011 |
On Photography is a serious and intelligent book that is continually thought-provoking. That the thoughts it provokes may often be along the lines of “You’re full of shit, Sontag” hardly diminishes it; one measure of its quality is the mental resources Sontag forces you to muster to argue against it.

At its best, On Photography is brilliant: page after page, it presents brilliant ideas concerning how we look at photographs, what photographs mean to us, and how photography alters our world.

At its worst, however, On Photography is disingenuous intellectual sleight of hand, a game of now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t in which Sontag continually shifts the goal posts to support her generalizations, and constructs houses of cards based on premises that she never fully examines.

3 vote ajsomerset | Feb 21, 2010 |
An enlightening and memorable reading experience. No one writes an essay like Sontag. This book should really have the photographs that Sontag discusses included in the book - a big mistake in my mind. ( )
  simaqian | Jan 28, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312420099, Paperback)

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 “a progress of essays about the meaning and career of photographs.” It begins with the famous “In Plato’s Cave”essay, then offers five other prose meditations on this topic, and concludes with a fascinating and far-reaching “Brief Anthology of Quotations.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:25 -0400)

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Essays explore the aesthetic and moral problems raised by the presence of the photographic image in modern-day life; consider the relation of photography to art, conscience, and knowledge; and examine the works of major photographers.

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Legacy Library: Susan Sontag

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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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