The Nature of Photographs: A Primer

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Overview

How does a photograph "work"? In this book, internationally acclaimed photographer Stephen Shore brings together more than fifty images (by such photographers as Walker Evans, Eugène Atget, Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Frank Gohlke, Lee Friedlander, Edward Weston, Robert Frank, William Eggleston, and Jan Groover) to illustrate a process of looking at and understanding photography. He traces the process by which the world in front of the camera is transformed into a photograph -- ...

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Overview

How does a photograph "work"? In this book, internationally acclaimed photographer Stephen Shore brings together more than fifty images (by such photographers as Walker Evans, Eugène Atget, Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Frank Gohlke, Lee Friedlander, Edward Weston, Robert Frank, William Eggleston, and Jan Groover) to illustrate a process of looking at and understanding photography. He traces the process by which the world in front of the camera is transformed into a photograph -- and how that photograph, in turn, is transformed into a mental image.

A photograph, Shore explains, can be viewed on several levels. First, it is a physical object, a print. On this print is an image, an illusion of a window onto the world. It is at this level that we "read" a picture and discover its content: a souvenir of an exotic land, the face of a lover, a wet rock, a landscape at night. This is the depictive level, in which the world is transformed into a photograph through qualities of flatness, frame, time, and focus. On a final level is the mental apprehension of the image, which joins the focus of lens, eye, attention, and mind.

Using these levels of seeing, Shore reveals how the qualities of a photograph create tension and meaning -- as the collapsing of depth creates new relationships, as lines and shapes in the image play against the frame, as focus creates barriers in the depth of an image, as the duration of exposure variously transforms the fluid world into a static piece of film. As the visual image continues to grow in importance as a medium of global communication, the skills and insights conveyed by this book will become increasingly relevant both to those who takephotographs and those who view them.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Features 52 mostly b/w photographs from 41 photographers including Gary Winogrand, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, Alfred Stieglitz, and Walker Evans. Focusing on the photograph itself, the author discusses subjects such as how aspects of the physical medium such as boundedness, types of emulsion, and types of base determine visual qualities; how the context in which the photo is apprehended affects meaning; how the use of four transformative elements (flatness, frame, the interruption of time, and focus) creates previously non-existent relationships; and how the interaction between viewer and viewed constructs mental images separate from the depiction itself.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780714859040
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press
  • Publication date: 9/22/2010
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 136
  • Sales rank: 259,290
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Shore 's work has been widely published and exhibited for the past twenty-five years. He was the first living photographer to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Published collections of his photographs include Uncommon Places, The Gardens at Giverny, Stephen Shore: Luzzara, The Velvet Years, and Stephen Shore: Photographs, 1973-1993. Since 1982 he has been chairman of the photography department at Bard College, where he is the Susan Weber Soros Professor in the Arts. James L. Enyeart is director of the Marion Center of Photographic Arts at the College of Santa Fe.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2012

    Not what I expected..

    I was expecting a more detailed--less of a primer, although it was billed as a primer-- instructional guide to viewing photographs. Instead I had short paragraphs---in a hideous typeface--being a little too esoteric.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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