Photography Essays Susan Sontag

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Our learned and inherited preference for "images" over "real things" is a danger; but no less a danger than believing what we see without reason.

Sontag insists photography is an aggressive act which makes reality atomic, manageable, denies interconnectedness and continuity, and confers on each moment the character of a mystery.

Sontag discusses in the six essays not only the philosophical question of how reality may be perceived and knowledge gained, but she also reviews photography in its context: as a tool, an industry, an activity that "imposes a way of seeing" and therefore, actually alters reality.

Sontag sees that photography, leveling everything, also beautifies.

The forming image is sharp, trenchant - a good picture; but it isn't exactly the photo you had in your head.

Photography's inferior but inexorable version of reality is the bases of On Photography.Let the subject be what it will - pollution, death, war …photography will tend to make it look aesthetically pleasing.An English writer, Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels and seven books of non-fiction.In 2006, he was awarded the International Centre of Photography’s Infinity Award for writing on photography. So when Susan Sontag's On Photography hit the bestseller list recently, it caused an uproar among photo professionals and hobbyists alike."To photograph people," Sontag said, "is to violate them...Alienating us from direct experience, the photo provides a more intense second-hand experience, an illusion of knowledge.Essentially disjunct, mute, the photo cannot tell the truth that comes only from words and narration.And I agree that the image is fundamental to the cultural impact of the camera.But to know an experience by seeing it photographed is to know it as distanced, second-hand, fragmentary.


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    Winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award for Criticism. One of the most highly regarded books of its kind, On Photography first appeared in 1977 and is described by its author as "a progress of essays about the meaning and career of photographs."…

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    As everything she wrote, Susan Sontag's book on photography is brilliant. It is a set of essays on the "philosophy" of picture-taking and the meaning of photography in the modern ca. 1970 world. Anyone interested in the social roles of photography will find this book fascinating and thought-provoking. I originally read it when it first came out and was immensely impressed and a second.…

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