http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Photographs ... 215&sr=8-1
This is an enjoyable read although I'm not sure it lives up to its title, but do they ever? Photography, like any other art form, is subject to fads and fashions and appreciation is a subjective matter for the most part. Of course, like great paintings there are great photographs, but I'm not sure one can produce a road map to determine which they are. Tonality, form, composition, the famous decisive moment, etc all play their part. There are few if any decisive moments here. Indeed, landscape and abstract compositions dominate as do images made in large format (particularly 4x5) and printed by hand. One is tempted to think that technique is playing a bigger part for the author than aesthetics in both assessment and choice. That said, this is still a valuable book, not least because of the number of new photographers (to me at any rate) who populate its pages. Personally, I should have liked to see more portraits, street scenes and photos made from smaller scale cameras than field and MF but that's a small criticism for a nice book and worthy addition to the shelves.
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