book "Photography: A Critical Introduction" by Liz Wells

Discussion in 'Book, Magazine, Gallery Reviews, Shows & Contests' started by bonk, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. bonk

    bonk Member

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    Is this book any good? When reading the index and the description, it seems to be the book I am looking for. A book about the "theory" of photography, that tries to answer the question "What is photography?". Its approach seems to be serious and "scientific", yet still approachable and a good introductory overview. It also seems to be some sort of reference book that has been around for quite a while.

    What is your opinion about this book? Is there any other book with a similar topic, concept and reputation?
     
  2. bonk

    bonk Member

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    I just got a private message on a possible alternative, similar book: "On Photography" by Susan Sontag (thanks Ian C). That one seems to be more USA-centric and "opinionated".
     
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  3. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    You will definitely get opinions about 'On Photography', never mind what is in the book :cool:
     
  4. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

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    Books you might want to look at are

    Victor Burgin Thinking photography, Photography in print and Light Matters both by Vicky Goldberg, and Classic essays on photography Trachtenberg .
    These are collections of essays by photographic theorists and photographers
    An good intro into the theory is
    David Bate Photography, and I would highly recommend Stephen Shore's The nature of photography, Criticizing photographs by Terry Barrett is an interesting insight into evaluating images , If you have an interest in Still life looking at the overlooked by Norman Bryson is worth reading. The classic theory of photography books are Barths camera Lucida and Susan Sontag on photography . Liz Wells comes from a direction which some might describe as marxist and has an academic style that can leave some people greatly underwhelmed .
     
  5. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    apples and oranges

    if you go with sontag, get also her postcript, regarding the pain of others
     
  6. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    For an overview of the various theories on photography, try Ashley la Grange "Basic Critical Theory for Photographers"
     
  7. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Geoff Dyer's "The Ongoing Moment" is also worth a look.
     
  8. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Never heard of Liz Wells, but what do her political leanings have to do with a book on photography?
     
  9. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    My advise is to keep an open mind, don't draw conclusions too Early, and read as much as you can. A good starting place is in the beginning, the history of...
     
  10. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

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  11. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't know that book, but there are some others that I've read recently that might be of interest as well: The Pleasures of Good Photographs by Gerry Badger, Why People Photograph and Beauty in Photography both by Robert Adams, and Photography after Frank by Philip Gefter.
     
  12. Herzeleid

    Herzeleid Member

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    I've recently started this book, not read enough but I'm certain that it will be a good solid resource for my thesis study. The approach is more "academic", and it doesn't seem to have a captivating easy reading, but it has good information.

    Sonntag's is a good reading but I can't compare both. apples and oranges. I do like and suggest Sonntag's on photography as well.
     
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  13. jscott

    jscott Member

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    It has a lot to do with it, since if you buy their book they will use your money to push their political agenda.



    "Liz Wells comes from a direction which some might describe as marxist and has an academic style that can leave some people greatly underwhelmed .
    Never heard of Liz Wells, but what do her political leanings have to do with a book on photography? "
     
  14. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    It's an interesting book but is very much written / edited for an academic audience. What intrigues me about such work is that they are often used for quotes and discussions in other academic papers, but you wonder how many readers sit down and read them for pleasure.

    Two books mentioned by previous posters which I really enjoyed reading were Geoff Dyer's The Ongoing Moment and Gerry Badger's The Pleasure of Good Photographs. Also Approaching Photography by Paul Hill, recently re-published. All books which I will look forward to reading again.
     
  15. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    A Marxist view of photography views the medium as a social construct and does not look at photographs as aesthetic objects. Thus, if you are interested in photography as art, the Wells book would hold no interest at all. If, on the other hand, you care little for what photographs actually look like, but are instead concerned with their social "signifiers" then you might enjoy slogging through it very much.

    Michael A. Smith
     
  16. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Studying the aesthetics of photography is comparable to learning what wines you should like from reading a book on wine appreciation. Also, too often the aesthetics discussions devolve into ArtSpeak.
    The alternative methodology of studying the sociological milieu at least has the advantage of providing a historical and socioeconomic context for the art.
    Neither of these approaches should be of any importance when actually photographing.
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    It is of paramount importance to me when I am photographing. I create aesthetic objects. My photography has absolutely nothing with sociological milieu or with the subject at all.

    However, I believe as did Barnett Newman, that "criticism is to the artist as ornithology is to the birds".
     
  18. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Everyone has some kind of agenda. Just because I might disagree with someone about some facet of their lives doesn't mean they can't create beautiful art, music or literature.