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.
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.
Originally Posted by bonk
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.
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? "
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.
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
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.
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.
Originally Posted by doughowk
However, I believe as did Barnett Newman, that "criticism is to the artist as ornithology is to the birds".
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.
Originally Posted by jscott