how to read a photograph

Posted on Aug 18, 2009

For the past couple of months I’ve been borrowing photography books from the local library. England Observed by John Gay and Annie Leibobvitz at work were favourites. Last week I grabbed How to Read a Photograph by Ian Jeffrey. I’m struggling to get past the foreword by Max Kozloff:

… Here is a mode of depiction equipped with a transcriptional bias that allows for guile. Taking that in, the historian deals not only with the spontaneity of behaviour but the way it is socialized for the camera…

The commentary on the pictures is similarly dense. Obviously the person who borrowed the book before me also found it tough going - the book was renewed seven times.