I’ve been reading Henry Carroll’s new book, “Photographers on Photography, How the Masters See, Think & Shoot”.  He takes a look at the influential figures from past and present who pushed photography forward. Through a selection of quotations, photographs and interviews he offers insights into the minds of masters and examines the approach to the craft and what matters.  His U.K. publishers have a blog post with some lovely excerpts which feature a selection of images from the book that serve as brief introductions to the big ideas and collective viewpoints on thought-provoking photography.  The book is a great read.

Rather than a chronological storyline, the book is organized around thoughts about photography by photographers.  It is a sort of an introduction and examination of the philosophical aspects of photography using quotes, iconic images and Carroll’s own commentary.   There is no delineation by chapter of which specific philosophical underpinnings of photography are being explored (rather the book “chapters” are simply a list of the photographers by name).  While Carroll’s selection of quotes and commentary leads you on a path, he leaves the interpretations open to the reader.  In this respect the book is like a series of thought starters for you about how you think about and view photographs. While I am still reading the book and continuing to digest it, here are some of my takeaways on some of the perspectives offered in the book:

  1. The camera as machine…and the linkage between man, emotion, art and a machine
  2. Pictures, photographs, prints and the parameters around each of them
  3. Photographic consumption and the digital world we live in today
  4. The image as a reality, a selected segment of reality, a past or an emotion and how these combinations may inter-relate
  5. The diversity of photographers’ views of their own image making (i.e. photographs are taken as a whim, to feature a subject or to say something more).  Is the photographer driven by the making of a political statement, reporting and/or emotional expression?
  6. What and/or who gives a photograph meaning: the photographer? the subject? and/or the viewer? or the context?  This was discussed for fully in my email newsletter, in case you want to subscribe to future emails for commentary about photography, and even some special offerings that are available to subscribers. Subscribe on my the bottom at the contact page 
  7. The power of photography…or not

Be prepared…the book forces you to think and often raises more questions than answering them.  In some cases you flip a page and the next page contradicts the page before it….it forces you to think about the different perspectives and approaches to photography.

This is a great book. It is an enjoyable, thought-provoking, informative read that takes you into the world of thinking about photography for collectors and photographers.

Here’s a video of Henry Carroll talking about the book…his challenges putting it together and what it is all about.  Enjoy the video.  Enjoy the book.