For those interested in the history of photography I can heartily recommend Photography – The Whole Story; general editor: Juliet Hacking; foreword by David Campany; 30+ contributors; 576 pages; Prestel; 2012. The Conscientious website reviewed it and I agree whole-heartedly with the points made in the review:
Much to my delight (“delight” isn’t a word I use very often) I recently discovered Photography – The Whole Story. Edited by Juliet Hacking, the book was produced featuring over 30 contributors (art historians, curators, writers). In a nutshell, a specialist for any given period or subject matter writes about just that. On top of that, the book is organized simply around time frames, with subject matters/topics then covering those. That might just be the simplest way to do it. The writing in the book is compelling and a joy to read, avoiding tedious jargon where possible, while never being superficial or simplifying.
On top of all of this, the book presents quite a few individual photographs in detail. These sections are what makes this book stand out. The general background of the photograph is explained. The artist is – briefly – introduced. What is more, four to six sections/parts of the photograph are discussed in more detail: Technical details, historical details, poses, compositions, whatever might be of relevance. Of course, learning about photography has to involve learning how to look at photographs, and Photography – The Whole Story does a wonderful job doing just that for dozens and dozens of historical photographs, some well known, many others not.
The book thus teaches the history of photography not as a large number of facts and names, which, let’s face it, are hard to remember. Instead, it uses a large number of photographs created over the course of that history, tying those photographs to what matters. Learning the history of photography has to mean seeing and understanding a lot of photographs, both how they operate as photographs and how they’re tied to the underlying history. Photography – The Whole Story superbly does just that. Given its focus, writing and design, I think it will have a large appeal for a general audience, people interested in the history of photography. For anyone seriously interested in photography, the book is a must have, must read. Highly recommended.