Mud season is upon us here in New Hampshire, so the next couple weeks will be spent catching up on office work, some long delayed interior projects, and gaining inspiration by reading some of the books on my shelf. This post will be the first in a series of posts highlighting my ten favorite photography books. Some of them will seem obvious, but hopefully, a few of them might be new to you and gain you some additional insight or inspiration into this art that you hold so dear. I'll provide you with these books in ascending order, beginning with today's entry, #10.
#10 - On Photography by Susan Sontag
I know that Crash Davis finds "that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap" but I love this collection of essays written over several years and published in 1977. On Photography won the National Book Critics' Circle Award for 1977 and was selected among the top 20 books of 1977 by the editors of the New Times Book Review.
Very few books written today talk about photography in such a deep, analytical, and thought provoking way, and for a book devoting its words totally to photography, there is not a single photograph in it. This is not a book for those that un-endingly concern themselves with apertures and shutter speeds, memory cards and files types, film speed and processing speed. This is a book for those that want to look deeper into the craft, and deeper into themselves, analyzing what they do, and why they are doing it.
Rereading this book periodically allows me to re-evaluate what I perceive about my work, gleaning another nugget of understanding or knowledge from the page, making me more self aware, and allowing me to ask myself important questions.
"Whenever serious photography is felt to have been purged of outmoded relations to art and to prettiness, it could just as well accommodate a taste for pictorial photography, for abstraction, for noble subjects rather than cigarette butts and gas stations and turned backs." - Susan Sontag from On Photography.