What is a Photograph? (Lecture response and further reading)

What is a Photograph?
What are the properties of a photograph?
– It is 2D
– It flattens the world
– It has edges
– It is an artefact
– It is still
– It is fixed in time
– It is (colour or) monochrome
– It has denotations and connotations
– It is a truth
– It serves a purpose/is considered a work of art
– It involves a relationship between it’s participants

A few books were mentioned in this lecture. So, I had a read of The Nature of Photographs by Stephen Shore.  His book outlines important ways of understanding photographs. These are a few I found interesting:

“In the field, outside the controlled confines of a studio, a photographer is confronted with a complex web of visual juxtapositions that realign themselves with each step the photographer takes.” (Page 48)

He is explaining how that when shooting out of the studio, there are very precise moments. This reminds me of Henri Cartier-Bressons concept of the ‘decisive moment’ where Cartier-Bresson believes that ever aspect of a photograph comes together to create a perfect composition. Shore explains how one step forward and one step back could reveal or hide an object. I tried this out with my camera phone just to try to fully understand the concept he is writing about.

“A photograph has edges;the world does not. The edges separate what is in the picture from what is not.” (page 54)

“There is a gravitation of attention to the plane of focus. Attention to focus concentrates our attention.” (Page 90)


Having the depth of field short, the plane of focus is on the light-up block in the foreground. This is what I intended the viewer to be looking at, and using depth of field helps to achieve my goal.