Saturday, October 23, 2010


Continuing my ongoing interest in both critical theory and the history of photography, the next book I tackled was one taken from the reading list for the course, "Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography and Politics" by David Levi Strauss.

Compared to the last two books, Sontag and Berger, this was relatively disappointing.  The first few essays, particularly those covering Land mines and Rwanda, were both moving and informative about how photographers approach such difficult and tragic situations.  The discussion of how photographer Alfred Jaar dealt with what he had seen and captured on film related how it took years before he could present the images and the special way he handled the challenge of such difficult work.  The text dealt with the power of the image "The Eyes of Gutete Emerita", which simply showed her eyes each in its own frame reflecting the horror of what she had witnessed without actually showing it.

The discussion of the lives and deaths of two dedicated documentary photographers, Richard Cross and John Hoagland, dealt with the difference between photographers who engage fully with their subject versus those who arrive grab some images in a couple of days and then get out again.  However, both Cross and Hoagland paid with their lives for their commitment, photography can be a dangerous business; as McCullin pointed out in his biography, text journalists can write their stories from anywhere, a conflict photographer has to be in the action to capture their story.

However, after these essays the others were not at the same level, frequently reviewing work by photographers I am not familiar with, but less effectively than say "Crisis of the Real" by Andy Grundberg.  Worth reading and thought provoking in places, but not as good as other books I have read recently.

No comments:

Post a Comment