Customer Reviews: A World History of Photography
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The 3rd edition of this book, published in 1997, is a popular textbook for college art history classes and is held by many libraries. The hardcover 4th edition published in 2007, whose ISBN-13 is 9780789209467, has a similar dust jacket and is also 9"x12" (but has 712 pages, as opposed to the previous edition's 695). Both editions are visually attractive and informative.

Overall, the 4th edition improves upon the 3rd only somewhat. The chapter numbers and names, and the titles of the interspersed sections on notable topics and technical histories, are unchanged. I leafed through the 3rd and 4th editions, and chapters 1-10 have no significant differences. In other words, recent trends and findings in the history of photography prior to 1950 have been omitted. I would have liked to see at least mention of more old photobooks (e.g., Moi Ver's 1931 "Paris," Brodovitch's 1945 "Ballet," and Heisler & Styrsky's 1945 "On the Needles of These Days"), interest in which has increased this decade, and a sentence or two on the 2002 discovery of an 1825 photo by Niepce.

Chapters 11 ("Photography Since 1950: The Straight Image" and 12 ("Photography Since 1950: Manipulations and Color") on pages 516-629 were only moderately revised compared with the 1997 edition. I count 2 photos dropped from the old edition and 11 new photos. Changes in the text include addition of some female, non-Western, and contemporary male photographers; more material on "Digital Imaging" on pages 620-625; and a couple new paragraphs on "The Market for Photographs" on page 625.

The current edition has slightly revised text on pages 630-631 about "Digital Image-Making," a new afterword on pages 639-641, an updated time line on pages 655-660, a glossary on pages 661-665 now with terms related to digital imaging, and references as recent as 2007 on pages 666-683.

I could find only a few mistakes (e.g., "Todd" instead of "Tod" Papageorge on page 527, "Miquel" instead of "Miguel" Rio Branco on page 547, and limitations of definitions of "burning" and "dodging" on pages 661-2 to only digital techniques). The numbering of figures on pages 630-640 is incorrect (should be 816-828, not 808-819 and 816). A number of major 20th-century photographers (e.g., Ralph Gibson, Jeff Wall, and Francesca Woodman) were excluded, which is unfortunate. There is no mention of "paparazzi" or "Photoshop" (in specific, not just the general discussion of software on page 631); for better or for worse, both of these have influenced the history of photography.

In summary, if you have the 3rd edition, there's little reason to obtain this one. If you don't have the 3rd edition, or if you have the 3rd but want some updates in the material on the 1950s and beyond, buy this book from!
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on February 9, 2002
I am the Curator of the Pfeifer Collection of Classical American Photography in Zürich, Switzerland and previously to this, the Assistant Director of the Paul Strand Archive. I have been writing about photography since 1985. Since it was published, I have used Rosenblum's book extensively. It is the first source book I go to when doing my research.
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on April 13, 2001
I have owned a copy of this book for several years and it still gets used with the frequency it deserves. I confess having been quite ignorant about the history of photography: it seemed the type of record I would not be particularly interested in (old photos are too old, and new ones are in the daily paper); but my attempt to read Susan Sontag's book ON PHOTOGRAPHY demanded precisely the nearby presence of a reference such as this one, and so I came to own my copy. The book is very thorough, deeply scholarly, and broadly based. If it has to do with the record of photography as culture it is likely to be found here. I treasure it.
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on June 1, 2007
Well, I have to say that the author is an excellent researcher. Although she concentrates mainly on the creative and artistic sides of photography, the technical aspects are also presented, albeit briefly. I know this book is used as a textbook in several schools, and the problem I have is that it reads like one. While perusing this work, I couldn't help feeling that I was back in college, cramming for a final exam, rather than being taken on a journey through photographic history. In other words, the author's writing style is a tad dry. The facts are all there, and the pictures are wonderful, but she never seems to convey the emotion or feelings of the events. So, if you want something to study, this is it. If you want something to read and enjoy, I'd go elswhere.
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on January 11, 2009
The book is a great resource on the history of photography but it is by no means a world history. Its content & perspective is very American, surprisingly so. This makes it less valuable as a textbook on the subject for students outside America.
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on July 17, 2014
I got this book because I needed it for photography class and it is exactly as it sounds. This book is a history of photography from the very first photograph taken until now more current times.

The first chapter of the book focuses on the development of the camera. The camera was not how we are used to now. It involved a long chemical process that had to be done instantly unlit the digital cameras we are all used to.

After the introduction, the book goes into many different genres and how they formed like photojournalism and so on.

What I really liked about this book is that it not only discussed the history of photography but it also included a lot of photographs. The photographs were not only showing the development of the actual camera but also of some historic figures that helped make photography what it is today.

I do have one small dislike of the book and that is with some parts of the layout. I will be reading about an important figure, and the photograph can be three pages later. I do not like flipping back and forth when I am reading. It would have been really nice to see everything on one spread.

Besides a few glitches with the layout, this book is amazing. It is very comprehensive and will fill you in with all you need when it comes to photography. Photography is part of our everyday lives from the professional to the camera phone. If you are looking to lean more about this history of photography, this is a pretty good book.
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on March 18, 2010
89% of the people reviewing this book gave it a "favorable" rating, ie. 4 and 5 star ratings combined. I include myself in that count.

Look, other reviewers, this is a book about the history (let me repeat: history) of photography, and it does it extremely well. Yes, it is a textbook. So what? That is hardly a condemnation.

If you are interested in a deeper understanding of the development of photography, this is a good purchase. If you are just interested in pretty photos
and don't want to read, go elsewhere. Scott Kelby will greet you with open arms. On the other hand, there are some very fascinating photos in this book that I have never seen before.

I would buy this book again. I have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of photography as a result of reading it.
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on April 11, 1999
The book is an outstanding and thorough history of the photographic process, equipment, photographers and styles from Niepce's first photos through color photographs from the 1980's. A very complete survey, especially of the photographers with lots of examples.
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on February 20, 2009
I had been listening to Prof. Jeff Curto' s class- History of photography podcast of his class [...] I eventually purchased the textbook for the class (podcast) and I have been amazed at how much more of have gotten out of the podcast by reading this excellent textbook. I highly recommend both the text and the podcast. If you want to learn about the history of photography, you do not have any more excuses.
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on January 16, 2015
Pretty worthwhile to buy! It is my required textbook for history course. After sinking in it,I almost feel like go through with it even though reading is not something that I am accustomed to. Good pictures and adorable contexts.
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