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The Nature of Photographs: A Primer 2nd ed. Edition
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The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is deceptively simple. Shore sets out to describe "the physical and formal attributes of a photographic print" (although, it seemed to me, the work applied equally to an image on a monitor) "that form the tools a photographer uses to define and interpret...content." For example he suggests that at the depictive level there are four separate ways the camera transforms the world into a photograph: flatness, frame, time and focus. Each of the discussion points is supported by great images from photographic history, taken by photographers as diverse as Timothy O'Sullivan and Paul Caponigro.
The text is short, capable of being read in less than an hour. However a useful reading requires a lingering over the photographs presented. For example, in commenting upon a picture of a clear-cut hillside, Shore says that photographer Robert Adams could frame a picture so that a railroad track appearing in a corner could enhance the meaning of the image. When I first glanced at the picture, I looked for an obvious railroad right-of-way, but closer examination showed a single railroad track just appearing in the bottom corner. One might have thought it was unavoidably included, a mere accident. But realizing that Adams was not so casual gave a whole new level of meaning to the photograph.Read more ›
It certainly has some quite stunning photos, especially where they relate to specific text and many thought provoking points come across but I was left with the impression that there should have been more or a different way to explain what there is. The book's photos are a key element in how to understand what is going on and I would have preferred to have seen others that didn't work as obviously as the ones that do. Shore, like any creative photographer, must have taken many images that he doesn't think work as well as the final choice. Seeing some lesser alternatives to the ones in the book would have improved it no end by explaining why photo A reveals a fundamental point beautifully but photo B doesn't. I thought too many visual concepts were put across more by words than images.
Shore says that he used Szarkowski's The Photographer's Eye when he started teaching and his book carries on the theme. Overall I still prefer Szarkowski's book, there are far more photos included and the presentation is much more user friendly than the hard edge Phaidon design, with its excessive amounts of empty page space and trendy use of a typewriter font for every bit of text.
Incidentally as both books are concerned with image appreciation and understanding maybe a DVD format would work just as well as these printed versions.
***LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
The format of the book is an image per page and short blurbs giving you something to think about and recognize in the images. Some of it makes sense to me: how framing can make a picture self-contained or suggest a world beyond it, for example; or how depth of field and the plane of focus can create a heirarchy of importance in the picture's contents. Other stuff, like how your ability to perceive your surroundings affects the gestalt of the images you make, is not something I can comprehend. And this is one of the shortcomings of the book for me: sometimes he makes a statement like this and follows it with a few pages of uncaptioned images, but I need him to be telling me what to see in the image that demonstrates his prior statement.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best photography texts, focused in its particular way (on visual properties of photographs, and to an extent their presence as objects). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Zone
This book is a critical text that modernizes Szarkowski's The Photographer's Eye. The low-ranking customer feedback (and reasoning) for this book on Amazon misses the point. Read morePublished 4 months ago by amazon customer
I purchased this book as a required text for a photography class. This book has made me wonder if I'm cut out to be a photographer. Read morePublished 4 months ago by EGH
Had to buy this for a photography class. Most of these photos can be found online. Don't see a point in purchasing this book. Not much educational info in the book.Published 16 months ago by Brenna
Needed for a course and still trying to appraise it. Lots of good pictures but limited instruction when not classified as g00d- better - best or BAD.Published 17 months ago by Goodwdav