What Photography Is, Paperback Book


In What Photography Is, James Elkins examines the strange and alluring power of photography in the same provocative and evocative manner as he explored oil painting in his best-selling What Painting Is.

In the course of an extended imaginary dialogue with Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida, Elkins argues that photography is also about meaninglessness--its apparently endless capacity to show us things that we do not want or need to see--and also about pain, because extremely powerful images can sear permanently into our consciousness.

Extensively illustrated with a surprising range of images, the book demonstrates that what makes photography uniquely powerful is its ability to express the difficulty--physical, psychological, emotional, and aesthetic--of the act of seeing.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240 pages, 67 black & white halftones
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Photography & photographs
  • ISBN: 9780415995696

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