reading about photography

in some other old thread we talked about reading books about photography. I then said I had just bought Susan Sontag’s classic book, Photography, which contains a few longer essays on the subject. Now I’ve struggled through it. Oddly, reading about photography doesn’t seem to be my thing — which is odd, considering that reading about something is usually my thing. It was, however, worth it, if nothing else so for this passage (sorry in advance for bad image quality):

DSC_7661I liked that. Very much. It seems so true to me. I also like how she says, in the second essay, ‘To photograph is to confer importance. There is probably no subject that cannot be beautifed; moreover, there is no way to suppress the tendency inherent in all photographs to accord value to their subjects.’ I think that’s true, too.

Basically, the book seems to me one third clever, one third nonsense and one third very clever nonsense. I, for one, am not sure what to make of sentences such as the following: ‘By disclosing the thingness of human beings, the humanness of things, photography transforms reality into a tautology.’ For all the things that did mean something — I’m not sure that means anything to me at all.

(I will now continue with Barthes.)

5 thoughts on “reading about photography

  1. If you allow me to pontificate, which you will have to allow me (or I’ll lock the freezer and you’ll be without ice-cream and Rudi will yell angrily and you won’t want to experience that), I’d say that the stuff about according value is not such an incomprehensible thing when if comes to photographing items that are naturally appealing (either because they’re naturally beautiful or because you feel some other kind of personal affinity to them) — the interesting thing is what happens when you photograph things that are somehow the objects of negative — or even more so when unambigous — feelings and thoughts. To will yourself upon them — to make a frontal attack upon them… that is interesting. I wish I did that a lot more than I dare do it. Because it is, somehow, transformative.

    (If I sound like a loon, it’s because in this way perhaps I am. And now you can have ice-cream. And champagne. Or cognac. Sausages. Anything you like!)

  2. You may find Barthes less painful. I mean everyone loves Susan Sontag, but that doesn’t mean we always know what the hell she is talking about.

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