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Photography: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0192801647 ISBN-10: 0192801643

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Product Details

  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (November 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192801643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192801647
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Dr Steve Edwards is Research Lecturer in Art History at the Open University. Publications include the successful Art and its Histories (Yale, 1999), as Editor.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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If I didn't need it for a class, I would not have purchased it.
Kindle Customer
The writing is very good, although if you are not that into all the nuances of the photographic art you might find it a bit tedious at times.
Dr. Bojan Tunguz
Also, there are good discussions about whether photography is or is not evidence and whether it is or is not a truthful representation.
James Duncan Davidson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James Duncan Davidson on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is mostly about photography's place in the world, how it relates to other arts, and the long-lasting question of whether it can be conceived of as an art. Also, there are good discussions about whether photography is or is not evidence and whether it is or is not a truthful representation. In other words, this is mostly a book about the philosophy of photography, if you will. And, while short, it's dense and full of discussion.

The book's largest flaw is that it glosses over digital photography until the end. For a book published in 2006, this may or may not be acceptable. But, then when the treatment of digital photography does come in a final chapter, that chapter is too simplified at best and verges on incorrect at worst. For example, at one point, the author indicates that it is impossible to detect tampering with an image. While it's true that digital technologies do make wholesale manipulation difficult to detect with the human eye, that's long been the case in photography. In the realm of the digital, there is a lot of work that has gone into algorithms that can detect manipulation. Also, if one is really interested in verifying that a photo is authentic for news purposes, Canon and Nikon (and maybe others) do have software solutions that rely on cryptographic signing to authenticate an image was made with a particular camera at a particular time and whether it was modified. With an attached GPS feed, even location data can be verified.

Still, even with a few glaring issues which seem to be the result of revising the text over time, the book is a thought provoking read. I'd have given 4 stars except for the poor treatment of digital technology in photography.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Jenkinson on August 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really like this book and I am considering making it mandatory for my freshman photo students at NYU.

Edwards does a fantastic job of covering the major movements and critical theories in photography without endorsing any one in particular. It's a slim little book can be stashed in a camera bag (easily lost, I am ordering my second copy) and read in bite sized nuggets.

The best part is that he encourages further study by giving you just enough to be interested and then want more.

It's true that it's a bit dated, but as someone who writes about photography, I can attest to the fact that it is fairly impossible to keep up with technology that is progressing so quickly. My last book was outdated before it hit the shelves.

Use this book to establish a framework for the history of photography, then dig deeper on your own
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is amazing how much we take photographs for granted. Our daily lives are inundated with images of news events, friends other everyday occurrences. All the news stories overwhelmingly feature at least a couple of accompanying images. With the advent of easy digital photography and the social network websites we have access to other people's lives at an unprecedented level. All of this makes it hard to imagine a world without photographs, and what revolutionary change photography has brought.

"Photography: A Very Short Introduction" starts with a conceptual exercise that asks as to try to imagine a dystopian future where photographs would be banned. This thought experiment is based on science fiction novel "Time and Light", and it gives us an opportunity to try to take a look at photography from a partially detached perspective. This will hopefully help us gain a new and deeper appreciation for photography, which is the principal aim of this very short introduction.

This book does a very good job of presenting the historical development not only of the photographic technology, but also of the changing attitudes towards photography and the roles that it plays in culture and society. The author is particularly good at expounding on the artistic merits of photography. This is also something that we take for granted today, but historically it took photography relatively long time to establish itself as a legitimate art form, as opposed to mare passive reproduction of reality.

The book concludes with an afterward dedicated to digital photography. This afterward is almost an afterthought, and the author doesn't seem to be too enamored with the recent digital photography revolution.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The first thing to mention is that this is a history, not a how-to. With that in mind, it's not a bad history.

This book is organized thematically and introduces photography through discussion of pictures in general, the definition and limits of photography, cameras and more.

There's an interesting quote I'll live with a long time: "We all now live our lives in the presence of pictures."

While the book is a little dense, it's an interesting read for the most part.
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