reading – during part 1 of the course

I have read (and re-read) the first two chapters of both Photography: a Critical Introduction (ed Wells; Routledge, 4th Edition 2009) and The Photograph (Clarke; OUP, 1997) as I have gone back and forth, to and from work, while I have been working through Part 1 of The Art of Photography. Both books cover similar things here – photography itself and how it developed over the first 150 or so years of its existance, the relationship between pictures and the things they depict, what makes a photograph a photograph and what difference do all these things make to the way we think while looking at pictures.

Alongside this, I have also read bits of Understanding a Photograph (John Berger; Penguin, 2013) and The Nature of Photographs (Stephen Shore; Phaidon, 2010); the combination of all these has, I think combined to change the ways I view other people’s photographs, although I don’t think it has fed into my own work in any tangible way yet…

…or so I wrote in the middle of July, while I was waiting for the feedback on my first assignment. I intended to come back and expand on this, but I didn’t.

Foolish, forgetful Simon!

However less foolishly, I didn’t forget to carry on reading – on the way to and from work, on the way up to Orkney on holiday, in snatched moments at my sister’s house, on the way south again and then, sigh, on the way to and from work again.  And as well as the books mentioned above, I’ve added The Photographer’s Eye (Freeman; ILEX, 2007) and Why People Photograph (Adams; Aperture, 1994). And I think it has (and indeed had at the time I started this post) started to feed, if not into the stuff I’m taking, then at least into the way I take the photographs I’m taking and into my head while I’m taking them…

I’ll add more posts about specific bits of specific books later, but for now I’ll just say that what I think I’m doing with theoretical reading is very definitely not writing reviews of the books or the ideas in them. Rather, I think I’m trying to understand the way these books get into my head and throw ideas up as I’m standing somewhere holding a camera and wondering what I’m going to do with it.

There is something very pleasant about covering books in brown paper (so they don’t get trashed in my work bag) and then adding marginal notes and highlighter and underlining and exclamation marks (!) and question marks (?!!), as if I was a quarter of a century younger than I am now, getting all excited by ideas…

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