Enrique Metinides


In light of the triumph of the digital photograph as the basic semantic unit of New Media, this paper investigates the response of photographic education to the culture of ubiquitous mobile and networked photography. It argues that photographic education fails to address such contemporary conditions as the crisis of the visual, the demise of the still photograph and the redundancy of the notion of authorship because it perceives the digital turn in technological terms. This paper suggests that if the digital moment in photography will be approached conceptually rather than technologically, it will present photography educators with a unique opportunity to place the study of the digital photograph at the centre of a culture which is based on reproduction, multiplication and copying.


The tasks that photography education is committed to, those of teaching how to make photographs and how to interpret them, never seemed more redundant and obsolete than in the present moment. The resignation of photography education in the face of digital culture crippled it and proved its irrelevance to everyone beside itself. Photography education knows of no method with which to approach New Media image culture; instead, it attempts in vain to prolong its survival by clinging to the historical moment of photography, not realizing that this moment has passed and that it has nothing to offer to the present besides obsolete judgments and inadequate interpretations.

At the heart of photography education there is a contradiction verging on a paradox. As Susan Sontag observes: cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the working of an advanced industrial society: as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers). (Sontag 366)

Quotes via A Photo Student

“I don’t care so much anymore about ‘good photography’, I am gathering evidence for history.” – Gilles Peress
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt
“I have never taken a picture for any other reason than that at that moment it made me happy to do so.” – Jacques-Henri Lartigue
“I photograph only something that has to do with me, and I never did anything that I did not want to do. I do not do editorial and I never do advertising. No, my freedom is something I do not give away easily.” – Josef Koudelka
“Finding a photograph is often like picking up a piece from a jigsaw-puzzle box with the cover missing. There’s no sense of the whole. Each image is a mysterious part of something not yet revealed.” – Susan Meiselas
“I’m very much against photographs being framed and treated with reverence and signed and sold as works of art. They aren’t. They should be seen in a magazine or a book and then be used to wrap up the fish and chucked away.” – Lord Snowdon
“Sometimes I have taken photographs and just felt so excited that I could barely hold the camera steady, and the photo was boring.” – Robert Rauschenberg

Who Cares About Books? DARIUS HIMES

Who Cares About Books?
All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books. —Bishop Richard de Bury, chancellor of England, 14th century
Photography books have never commanded greater interest than they do today. Each year they are published by the hundreds worldwide, collected and hunted down by the obsessed (this writer included), and sold at triple and quadruple their retail value. They provide an artist with a passport to the international photography scene and create occasions for exhibitions, talks, gallery walks, and reviews. Both the supply and the demand seem to be increasing unabated.
The bald statement “I want a book of my photographs” is on the lips of nearly every photographer I speak with, but few have more than a tentative grasp of the component parts of a book or an understanding
of what they want to express in book form—of why this body of work needs to be seen in book form as opposed to on the gallery wall or in a magazine.
In our personal lives, both photography and books are often burdened with sentimental value, becoming loaded symbols of our private histories and complex social relationships.1 My intent in this essay is to take a close look at the significance of books, how photography and books are intertwined, and what that relationship means for contemporary photography. I will also address the newly laid foundation for the study of the history of photography books, surveying the criteria offered for determining what makes a great photography book. Lastly, I will examine two particular titles that serve as examples of a happy marriage between photography and books.


The titles of Lynne Cohen’s photographs tell us very little about what the pictures show us. They in fact point to each photograph’s belonging to a type of space that fits into one or another of the series making up the work No Man's Land—a spa, a laboratory, a classroom, among others. While each of these names denotes the function of the photographed site, it tells us nothing else—nothing about the country or the city it is located in, nothing about the date the photograph was taken, and nothing about any specific feature of the site.
This paucity of information in the titles confers de facto another function upon them, inciting the observer (in the Duchampian sense of the participant-spectator) to question the relevance of the titles; that is, the relationships between what is shown in the photograph and what is signified in the title. In other words, what we see may correspond to the idea of have of such-and-such a type of place, with the titles acting as a simple filing system; but if we look at the pictures without paying attention to the titles and then try to find out to which series such-and-such a photograph belongs, we begin to realize that the spaces we are shown have a great many features in common and that they are all somewhat alike. What emerges is a world of formal resemblances, reflecting one another in a sort of infinite play of echoes.