Category: Exhibitions & Books


Now that this first part of the course is pretty much at an end it is now time to include a bibliography of all the texts and sources I have consulted throughout the last ten months.  Not all of these are directly related to the exercises or research for projects and assignments.  Nevertheless I have included these unrelated materials because I consulted them while doing the course and even if not directly referenced in any of the course work blog entries they have nevertheless had some impact on me and my thinking.  At school and when a student I was always encouraged to “read around the subject” and these extra materials continue that practice.

Some of the books I have not read in full, particularly those not directly related to the course, but have been dipped into from time to time for ideas and inspiration.

Inevitably there will be things that I have forgotten to add to this list but I am confident I have included most of my reference sources.  There are a few sources cited in the course material that do not appear in this list because I was not actually able to gain access to them.  Some seemed just to be bad links.



Azoulay, A, (2012).  The Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography.  New York: Verso.

Badger, G, (2007). The Genius of Photography: How photography has changed our lives. London: Quadrille Publishing Limited.

Barthes, R,  (2000).  Camera Lucida.  London: Vintage.

Benjamin, W.  (1931).  A short history of photography.  Literarische Welt 18.9, 25.9, & 2.10.31 (reprinted in Screen, vol.13, issue 1, 1.3.72.  Glasgow:  University of Glasgow.)

Berger, J, (2013).  Understanding a Photograph.  London: Penguin.

Berger, J, (1972).  Ways of Seeing.  London:  Penguin.

Dodd, L (ed), (2015).  Jane Bown: A Lifetime of Looking.  London: Guardian Books and Faber & Faber

Bright, S, (2005).  Art Photography Now.  London: Thames & Hudson.

Campany, D, (2012).  Art and Photography.  London:  Phaidon.

Casper, J, (ed), (2017).  The Best of LensCulture Vol. 1.  Amsterdam: Schilt Publishing.

Cartier-Bresson, H, (2014).  The Decisive Moment.  Göttingen: Steidl.

Cartier-Bresson, H, (1999).  The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers.  New York:  Aperture Foundation.

Cheroux, C, (2014).  A bible for photographers.  Göttingen: Steidl

Childerley, Z, (2016) The Debatable Lands.  High Green: VARC

Clarke, G, (1997).  The Photograph.  Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cotton, C, (2014).  The Photograph as Contemporary Art.  London:  Thames & Hudson

Dexter, J (ed), (1994).  Ansel Adams: The National Park Service Photographs. New York: Abbeville Press

Diprose, G & Robins, J (2012).  Photography: The New Basics (Principles, Techniques and Practice).  London: Thames & Hudson

Dyer, G, (2005).  The Ongoing Moment: A Book about Photography.  Edinburgh: Canongate

Evans, W, (2016).  American Photographs.  New York:  The Museum of Modern Art

Fink, L, (2014).  On Composition and Improvisation.  New York: Aperture

Fowles, J, (2016), p.37.  The Tree.  Toller Fratrum: Little Toller Books.

Fox, D, (2016).  Pretentiousness. London: Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Flusser, V, (2000).  Towards a Philosophy of Photography.  London: Reaktion Books.

Frank, R (2016).  The Americans.  Göttingen: Steidl

Franklin, S, (2016).  The Documentary Impulse.  London: Phaidon.

Fulford, J, & Halpern, G, (eds) (2014).  The Photographer’s Playbook.  New York: Aperture.

Ginsburg, A , (1955). Howl and Other Poems. San Francisco: City Lights.

Godfrey, M & Serota, N (2011). Gerhard Richter: Panorama.  London: Tate

la Grange, A, (2006).  Basic Critical Theory for Photographers.  Oxford: Focal Press.

Godwin, F, (2001). Landmarks.  Stockport: Dewi Lewis Publishing

Hill, P, (2004).  Approaching Photography (2nd ed).  London:Photographer’s Institute Press.

Jeffery, I, (2008).  How to Read a Photograph: Understanding, Interpreting and Enjoying the Great Photographers.  London:Thames & Hudson

Kawauchi, R (2012).  Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow.  Kyoto: Seigensha Art Publishing

Koudelka, J (2014). Exiles. New York: Aperture

Koudelka, J (2008).  Invasion Pragure 68.  London: Thames & Hudson

Klein, W, (2016).  Life is Good & Good for You in New York.  New York:Errata Editions

Lavrentiev, A(1995). Alexander Rodchenko: Photography 1924-1954.  Köln: Könemann.

Marshall, R, (1988). Robert Mapplethorpe. London: Secker & Warburg

Mod, C & Rubin, D, (2016).  Koya Bound: Eight days on the Kumano Kodo.  Tokyo: self published

Mora, G, (2017).  William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955-1984.  Austin: University of Texas Press

Parr, M (2013).  The Non-Conformists.  New York:  Aperture.

Phillips, T (1992) Works and Texts.  London: Royal Academy of Arts

Prodger, P (ed) (2016). William Eggleston Portraits. London:National Portrait Gallery

Ray-Jones, T, (2013). American Colour 1962-1965. London: MACK

Shore, S, (2007).  The Nature of Photographs.  London:  Phaidon.

Sontag, S, (1979).  On Photography.  London:  Penguin.

Soth, A, (2017).  Sleeping by the Mississippi.  London:  Mack.

Weaver, M (ed), (1989).  The Art of Photography.  London: The Royal Academy of Arts.

Whelan, R & Capa, C (eds) (1985).  Robert Capa: Photographs. London: Faber & Faber




Specific Internet Articles 05/photography-eamonn-mccabe-bbc4-journey-through- history



British Journal of Photography (specifically Issue 7862, August 2017)

Digital Camera (specifically issue 172, January 2016)


Splash and Grab


Others (Films)

Allen, W, (1977).  Annie Hall.

Auerbach, J (2016). 20 Sites n Years: A film by Jake Auerbach

Coppola, F.F. (2001). Apocalypse Now Redux.

Greenaway, P. (1985). A Zed and Two Noughts.

Kubrick, S. (1968). 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Spielberg, S. (2002).  Minority Report.

Tarkovsky, A. (1983).  Nostalgia.

Tarkovsky, A. (1972).  Solaris.

Tarkovsky, A. (1979).  Stalker.

Tarkovsky, A. (1986).  The Sacrifice.

Villeneuve, D. (2016).  Arrival.

Wong, Kar-Wai. (1994). Chungking Express.

Wong, Kar-Wai. (2000).  In the mood for love.

Wong, Kar-Wai. (2004).  2046.


Vilem Flusser – Again!

And now even OCA itself is onto this with a new course that sounds interesting, but that would be a distraction for me right now:

I really do think this is an important, and in some ways worrying, issue for photography and one that needs to be addressed afresh.  Fluster did the groundwork but it needs to be addressed again now in the light of the technological and social developments that possibly not even Flusser could have anticipated.

Vilem Flusser: Towards a Philosophy of Photography – Book – Postscript

Having recently posted about this book, quite by coincidence an article has just appeared on the LensCulture website about the role of Artificial Intelligence in photography.

The article, by Alexander Strecker, is a review of an exhibition in New York by Trevor Paglen that features photos taken, or created, by machines.    These are pictures taken by and effectively for, to be read by, machines.  Except to the extent that it is humans who write the software and feed these machines the data sets from which they work, these images are taken without human intervention of agency.  As such they are a somewhat chilling vindication of Flusser’s argument.  When you think about it there are increasing numbers of ways in which photos are taken by machines alone:  for example, and perhaps most troubling, by drones, particularly those used by the military to identify and strike distant targets; face and vehicle number plate recognition systems; security camera systems.

What is most worrying, bearing in mind Flusser’s argument, and is borne out to an extent by this exhibition, is that although these AI systems are programmed by humans they are programmed in ways that reflect the interests and prejudices of the humans involved, and most particularly the organisations that employ them so that the resulting images are not objective but meet the requirements and serve the interests of those organisations.

It used to be that the demon at the heart of capitalism was the military-industrial complex.  Then it was (and to an extent still is) big pharma as well.  Is it now the tech giants?

It was also just the other day that I came upon something on the OCA Discuss forum about an algorithm that purportedly assesses the aesthetic quality of a photograph.  This seems to me to be part and parcel of the same move towards robotisation and automation of photography, for the purposes of and in the interests of those that create the algorithm in just the same way as the AI in the exhibition.

As the article itself recognises, all of this opens up serious questions, and the need for an urgent and informed debate about the role of photography in the developing digital environment.  Personally I have no idea what the answers to those questions might be though I can now see that it is not simply going to be a simple matter, as I thought in my previous post, of just striving to produce work that is new and previously unseen as suggested by Flusser.  I can also see more clearly now that there is a major dilemma for any photographer who uses the digital realm in any way.

It is happening right now, right here with this blog, and I am a part of it.  This blog is an educational tool recording my development and progress through an academic course.  It is though putting out into the wider digital world images that I have made that would not otherwise be seen by anyone other than me and my tutor and assessors.  They are open to anyone who cares to look.  How the people who have found my work without being directed to it by me is beyond me.  Recently someone from a discipline completely divorced from photography looked at one of my posts.  Of course I do not mind, why should I? But how?  Why?  My best guess at the moment, though I have not looked hard enough to find out, is that it is possible to get the system in some way to look out for certain key words or phrases and to send an alert and link whenever they are found.  

Once something goes into the digital realm your personal control over it is compromised if not lost.  I would expect that mostly this is not a problem, that it is a relatively benign state of affairs.  However, we already know from looking at the issue of context that once an image is in the public domain it can, at the very worst, be used, interpreted, and manipulated in ways that can be completely alien and counter to the intentions of the originator.

The digital realm is though where, almost inevitably, as photographers we have to operate.  That is where and how those seeking to make a living from their art have to work.  I note that Magnum have an article on their website titled “How can photographers harness the digital space?”.  It is an important environment and not one that can be ignored or avoided.

Yes it could be possible to, as it were, go off grid but then how would you disseminate your work? Given that the digital realm is now so pervasive would it actually be possible really to remain disconnected or aloof from it?

I honestly do not know.  For now all I can do is try to hold good to Flusser’s injunction and make the best work that I can.  Oh, and avoid spaces such as Instagram which seems to me to be home to so much of all that is banal and worthless in the taking of pictures today.  Yes, there is some good stuff in there and I can see that it can be a useful tool for some creating good work.  But I do fear it is drowned out by the dross.

Lastly, for anyone out there who does come across this, excuse me if it sounds like a bit of a rant.  I do not mean to be doctrinaire or puritanical about this.  This is a serious and deeply important topic, not just within the realms of photography, but for society as a whole, and this is just a first attempt on my part to start straightening out my thinking.  My thinking is clearly rather inchoate at the moment but I feel I have to start somewhere.

Vilem Flusser: Towards a Philosophy of Photography – Book

I was intrigued by the quotation on the course material from this book so thought it would be worth reading.  It turns out though not to be quite I expected.

Although quite short it is pretty heavy going and requires the taking on board of a new language, or at least new meanings of already familiar words that are used throughout the text in a very particular way.  Fortunately there is a glossary at the back!  I had expected a work of theory but it is in fact pure philosophy.  As such it is not about photography  as such, not as an activity or practice but it addresses the significance of photography and the underlying role it plays in the modern world.  The book is, I suppose, more than anything a critique (post-Marxian?) of post-industrial capitalism.  I will not even try to summarise the argument but photography is effectively presented as being used by that capitalism  to control society and is a precursor for the increasing robotisation of society.

Oddly, for all that this is an important role, the camera is nevertheless described as a plaything rather than a tool, but one that effectively controls the photographer.  This is I suppose true to an extent in the case of fully automatic cameras, and indeed of any camera that has certain functions that do not require the active agency of the photographer for them to be applied.

Also oddly, for all of the significant role that photographs play, Flusser is pretty scathing about their quality, their banality, and of photographers in general.  To that extent this is not a book to read if you want to feel good about your own photographic practice!

I do not agree with all of his points, particularly where he seems to suggest that cameras have an active agency of their own, almost a will of their own, nor about photographers’ reasons for taking pictures (a search for immortality), but I have to accept that this might be more due to the fact that I might not properly have understood all of the argument.

The overall picture that he paints is similar to the Matrix movies.  What we as photographers perceive is not true and we are working, without knowing it, within a reality that is actually a construct of the system.  We are in a way slaves to the system as whole and to the camera.

What I take away from the book is the idea that as photographers we need to be more aware of what we are doing and the pitfalls that we might otherwise stumble into, producing images that are effectively worthless, though serving the system.  This is I suppose summed up by the quotation in the course book – what we need to do is try to produce images that have not been seen before.  What I also get is the importance of not being a slave to the camera, not to let it make all the decisions – keep out of automatic mode!  Technology being what it is, the way it is constantly developing and becoming more opaque to the ordinary user, and as camera manufacturers are at in a sense at the heart of the system, this is going to be hard and I cannot imagine that we are now all going to give up completely our all singing, all dancing digital cameras.  This idea does though chime with what I have recently been thinking about in connection with going back to experimenting with film.  My large format camera is about as far from the digital world as it is perhaps now possible to get and as I have written elsewhere it is sending me back to basics and first principles.  I am already intrigued by the artistic possibilities this opens up, and am heartened by the increasing number of artists (people whom I suspect Flusser would regard as real photographers) who are suing film make their images.

The world is in chains: we cannot though smash the system.  Perhaps though we can still find our own spaces where we are not a shackled to the system.


Flusser, V, (2000).  Towards a Philosophy of Photography.  London: Reaktion Books.