In my feedback on Assignment 2, my tutor asked if I had started with the course reading list. The answer was yes, but this served as a reminder that I had so far failed to really demonstrate this in my learning log. I have, in researching for exercises and assignments and in following links in the course material, looked at a number of the books on the reading list, having bought most of them early on in the course, and have referenced accordingly. However, I thought I would take the time to log a brief summary of my views on a selection of the recommended books:
The Photograph as Contemporary Art, Charlotte Cotton
This book was provided as part of the EYV course materials. I initially found the images difficult since many of them were very different to the more traditional images I had enjoyed and been used to. However, this book opened my eyes to photography as an art form and means of conveying much more than a pretty scene. Many of the images, I still find hard to enjoy and understand. Tatsumi Orimoto’s Bread Man (p28), for example, is quite startling and hard for me to appreciate. Yet, this book has shown me different genres and approaches to modern photography, and the introduction is accessible and provides a good overview of current themes within photography.
Cotton, C. (2014) The photograph as contemporary art. 3rd edn. London, United Kingdom: Thames & Hudson.
Photography, John Ingledew
This is an accessible introduction to photography. It includes technical information as well as history, different photography genres, and advice on opportunities for working with photography. I have found this book, with its ‘bite size’ layout, easy to pick up to browse. It is a valuable source of information on the work of different photographers.
Ingledew, J. and Gullachsen, L. (2013) Photography. 2nd edn. London: Laurence King Publishing.
The Photograph, Graham Clarke
Clarke’s book is divided into chapters each covering a different genre or theme. He looks at, for example, Landscape in Photography, introducing the theme with a historical context and describing developments in photographic thinking by landscape photographers challenging traditional ideas about what landscape photography is.
In the chapter ‘How Do We Read a Photograph’ I was interested, as an identical twin myself, in the reading of Diane Arbus’s Identical Twins (1967), and in the interpretation of images generally. This chapter provides an interesting introduction to how we identify meaning within images.
Clarke, G, (1997). The Photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Photography: A Critical Introduction, edited by Liz Wells
My tutor recommended this book, as a ‘good general work of reference’, in his feedback on my assignment 2. This is a big book, very useful for its explanation of contemporary theories and debates within photography. I like the inclusion of case studies. For example Wells includes an image analysis of Migrant Mother, which explores why the image became so famous, and an account by the photographer.
Wells, L. (2004) Photography: A critical introduction. 3rd edn. London, NY: Routledge.
The Nature of Photographs, Stephen Shore
This book is described as an ‘essential primer’. It comprises little text, being mostly a collection of illustrative photographs. Shore identifies three levels on which to view a photograph. Firstly, the physical level – a photograph is a physical object – a piece of paper for example, it is flat, and does not move. Secondly, the depictive level – the image depicts ‘an aspect of the world’ and the photographer chooses the viewpoint and exposure, what to include in the frame etc. The third level is the mental level – how our brains interpret and construct an image. The images work well to illustrate Shore’s concept.
Shore, S. (2010) The nature of photographs: A primer. 2nd edn. new York: Phaidon Press.
Approaching Photography, Paul Hill
Written for students but without a significant focus on technical skills, this is an introduction to photography concepts. In the introduction, Hill says ‘Photography is not about focal lengths, film speeds and f-stops, it is about images’.
This book encourages us to reflect on the meanings of a photograph. Hill focuses on the reading of a photograph in terms of visual language, and on learning to see what the camera sees. I am becoming more comfortable with the notion of a visual language and this book helps to show how each decision in taking a photograph is important to the final outcome and reading of the image.
Hill, P. and Taylor, R. (2004) Approaching photography. 2nd edn. United Kingdom: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications.