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On Photography (1977)

by Susan Sontag

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,951373,855 (4)36
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."… (more)
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English (32)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (37)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This is the worst book I've read about photography. It isn't even about photography, it is about Susan Sontag consistently misunderstanding photographs. It isn't intellectual, either. It is her emotional responses to the shallowest possible reading of photographs.

The defining moment is in the appendix of quotations, the only good part of the book. The first quote is from the notebooks of William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the earliest photographers. He wrote, "Make picture of kaleidoscope." This idea of photography as painting with light is utterly outside the simplistic readings of photography in Sontag's book.

Don't waste your time. Instead, find a copy of [b:READING PHOTOGRAPHS|8248602|READING PHOTOGRAPHS|Jonathan Bayer|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|13096229] or [b:Diana & Nikon: Essays on Photography|63136|Diana & Nikon Essays on Photography|Janet Malcolm|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312053000s/63136.jpg|2903402] or read the essays on photographers in Janet Malcom's latest, [b:Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers|16059462|Forty-one False Starts Essays on Artists and Writers|Janet Malcolm|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352781376s/16059462.jpg|21858277]. ( )
  wunder | Feb 3, 2022 |
Permbledhje esesh per imazhet fotografike.
  BibliotekaFeniks | Dec 21, 2021 |
355
  revirier | Dec 13, 2021 |
TL;DR photography is cool.

Also, it makes me want Sontag's hot takes on the rise of cell phone photography. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
There’s at least one photo project on every page of this classic work on photography and there’s good reason for that. Sontag writes eloquently and persuasively about the medium and its influence on our societies. Despite being written in the late 1970s, it’s also extremely accurate about the current state of the art with the rise in mobile phone camera use.

Some of her ideas she repudiated apparently in her later essay On Regarding the Pain of Others. But almost all her musings have become entrenched in how photography is now seen and critiqued. In short, judging from how others have written about On Photography, it seems it had more of an influence than even she could have realised.

The influence of this work is reflected below in the rating I awarded for Legacy. Very few books attain 100% in this category, but Sontag’s work deserves this.

No one is going to agree with all the opinions she puts forward here, but by writing in the style that she did, at the time that she did, and being the contraversial character that she was, she sparked untold myriad of discussions about the art and photography has never been the same since.

The book isn’t an easy read. Sontag was an intellectual giant and it can be hard to keep up with her references at times. Right off the bat, you need a familiarity with Plato, and Wikipedia will be your friend and companion throughout the journey.

It is, however, a very rewarding read. For those of us involved in photography, there’s an assignment on virtually every page. You could spend an entire photographic life exploring all the questions her writing demands we attempt to answer.

There are plenty of people out there who feel Sontag was wide of the mark with some of her observations, but there are also so many who feel she was spot on. Again, the importance of On Photography lies not in the definitive answers it gives us but the very important questions it asks. ( )
  arukiyomi | Dec 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Sontagprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jāne, ArtaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolmane, IevaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vērpe, KārlisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zābere, IngrīdaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Wikipedia in English (2)

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."

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Book description
Коллекция эссе Сьюзен Сонтаг "О фотографии" впервые увидела свет в виде серии очерков, опубликованных в New York Review of'Books между 1973 и 1977 годами. В книге, сделавшей ее знаменитой, Сонтаг приходит к выводу, что широкое распространение фотографии приводит кустановлению между человеком и миром отношений "хронического вуайеризма", в результате чего все происходящее начинает располагаться на одном уровне и приобретает одинаковый смысл. Главный парадокс фотографии заключается, согласно Сонтаг, в том, что человек, который снимает, не может вмешаться в происходящее, и, наоборот, - если он участвует в событии, то оказывается уже не в состоянии зафиксировать его в виде фотоизображения.
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Legacy Library: Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Susan Sontag's legacy profile.

See Susan Sontag's author page.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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