The Photograph: A Visual and Cultural History by Graham Clarke
From the first misty "heliograph" taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826 to the classic compositions of Cartier-Bresson and Alfred Steiglitz, to the striking postmodern strategies of Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman and Victor Burgin, the history of photography is a record of dazzling and penetrating images. But photographs can also be considered as the most pervasive images of our time, infinite in their capacity to record and make moments significant, granting status to everything they touch. So how do we read a photograph? In a series of discussions of major themes and genres, this work gives an account of the photograph's historical development, and elucidates the insights of the most interesting thinkers on the subject such as Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag. At the heart of the book is an examination of the main subject areas - landscape, the city, portraiture, the body, and reportage - and a detailed analysis of exemplary images in terms of their cultural and ideological contexts.