Quote Originally Posted by agnosticnikon View Post
I'll give you two that I've enjoyed. The first is "On Photography" by Susan Sontag. This is a fairly philosophical book about photography, and photographs. A lot of people don't like it because she is not a photographer, and the book contains no photos. But she has been a close friend to Annie Leibovitz for many years, so I assume she has some knowledge of photography. This can be a kind of dry read, but I still liked most of it mainly because she is NOT a photographer. Published in 1977 originally I believe.
The other is "talking pictures" by Marvin Heiferman and Carol Kismaric. This is an unusual book I came across a few years ago, published in 1994, that has people from all walks of life talking about photographs they like. Most are famous, or at least know for something, such as Diane Keaton, Dennis Hopper, and Rosa Parks. Their choices and comments are not necessarily a critique, but their opinions and views on the photos they choose and just photography in general, are interesting.
There are many books to choose from in this vein, but I thought of these off the top of my head, and like them because they were written before digital, when it was all about film.
The Susan Sontag book was written before she had any relationship with Annie Liebovitz. I've had my issues with it, particularly how she uses certain images to come to conclusions about photography and honesty (the most notable example is her discussion of Roger Fenton's "Valley of the Shadow of Death" photo of the road outside Sebastopol littered with cannonballs, which is actually in "Regarding the Pain of Others", and Errol Morris discusses this at length in his New York Times article series - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com...-egg-part-one/ ). I also take issue with her radical feminist critique of photography - by buying into the gendering of photography as a male activity, she not only ignores and undermines the work of numerous female photographers, she also perpetuates gender stereotypes of photographers and photography. I got into a big discussion about this question over on Rangefinder Forum regarding her comment that photography is sublimated murder.

For a critic, I'd also highly recommend reading Errol Morris as another voice of analysis.