Talk:On Photography

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On Photography is wonderful and one of the most important books in the history of photography.

I want to dedicate some time to changing this and going more in depth on Sontag's arguments but lack the time now. I hope someone can give her work the attention it deserves.

  • I put an NPOV tag on the content section because it seems to be arguing against the points Sontag made in the first part of the book, and this doesn't seem to be fair to the text. Acumensch (talk) 01:12, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Vfd Debate[edit]

This article was nominated for deletion but kept. The debate is at Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/On Photography. Sjakkalle 11:04, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

"Related Books"[edit]

I've removed the "Related Books" section because there was just one chapter of one book listed. I assume that's Rene Girard as the fourth author, and the cave reference is obvious, but other than that its relation to On Photography is unclear.

Here's the only entry in case someone wants to do something with it:

  • "In Plato's Cave" IN: Coleman, Brittenham, Campbell, Girard. Making Sense, page 465.

--zenohockey 20:46, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

On Photography article misleading and irresponsible[edit]

Susan Sontag's book On Photography revolutionized criticism on photography as a mass medium and as an art form, skewering the long-held sanctimonious platitudes by which critics had upheld photography as a benevolent medium of social reform. While Sontag may have re-evaluated or revised some of her statements in her later book, Regarding the Pain of Others, in no way did she retract or refute the thrust of her profound earlier observations. As the article correctly points out, Sontag had incorporated ideas by Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes, much of which is still read and seriously considered by the scholarly community. In addition, she cited and paraphrased sections of Pierre Bourdieu's Photography, A Middlebrow Art, which like Barthes and Benjamin, was largely untranslated into English at the time. Published in the 1950s, Bourdieu's work was among the first sociological studies to seriously consider photography's role in the community at large, as a means of preserving individual history, relationships, and experience.

Sontag's book is likely the most significant critical work on photography published in the US, among the first to seriously consider the medium as a form of mass information rather than purely an aesthetic sideline, and very likely determined the forms that art photography would take for the next twenty years, the "post-modern photography" of the 1980s and 1990s. To a large extent, photographers and critics from 1977 onward would use her work as a guide, highlighting the manner in which photography permeated and determined the course of everyday life, an "Image World" shaping ideology and culture; in advertising, political discourse, and consumerism; and determining socio-cultural norms of race, gender, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation.

Collected from a series of essays published in the 1970s in the New York Review of Books, Sontag's work is still the most profound, timely, and widely-read work to consider the various ways in which photography operates within mass culture. It is the most important work yet to consider the medium as a whole, and is quite accessible and readable. Sontag obviously was a keen viewer and partisan of photographic expression, be it informational or aesthetic. She obviously cared deeply for the medium, and almost single-handedly raised the bar for serious critical consideration of this influential form of mass communication, practiced widely among the population at large, as popular a form of communication, as she says, as "sex and dancing."

RSapirstein 03:17, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

Will somewhat alter lame bits[edit]

Nobody has commented on this article in more than a year. It's definitely got a POV, and one that is rather negative and not necessarily very informed at that. I'm going to tone the thing down a little, but may not bother to make it good or reasonable...perhaps I'm not even able..... It may take a few edits.

Calamitybrook (talk) 21:22, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Focus Decisively Changed[edit]

Took me a half hour.
Better, but still not a good article.
I think it's more accurate, but may still suffer from POV. I only added one reference, which is to that of Wm Gass's NYT 1977 review. I think it captures a notion of how the book was actually received and continues to be regarded.


I note that guts of article were taken from the Rev. Moon's online encyclopedia by an anonymous editor who appears to be inactive. Perhaps the current version is slightly unbalanced in Sontag's favor, and I'm sure it needs more sources. My level of interest in locating them is only middling.

Calamitybrook (talk) 17:27, 22 January 2009 (UTC)