["What I'm Reading" is a post consisting of less than a full review of a book but rather a more concise mention about something I'm currently reading and finding interesting enough to write something about.]
The Photographer’s Eye (not to be confused with Michael Freeman’s really exceptional Photographer’s Eye that was reviewed a while back) is based on a classic 1964 photo exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The Photographer’s Eye was written and curated by John Szarkowski, MOMA’s curator of photographer for many years. Incorporating Szarkowski’s essay and commentaries and 172 images, The Photographer’s Eye has long been out of print, but it is now back in print in a very fine edition published by MOMA. I discovered my copy at Hennessey + Ingalls in Santa Monica.
Szarkowski organizes the images in the collection according to – and discusses in his essay and commentaries – the categories “The Thing Itself,” “The Detail,” “The Frame,” “Time,” and “Vantgage Point.” These categories bring a distinctive perspective on thinking about photography.
But what I found most provocative and thoughtful was Szarkowski’s assertion in his essay that
[photography is unique in its] ability to challenge and reject our schematized notions of reality.
In photography, we see things we otherwise had not noticed; or we observe something in a new way. with new perspectives, or new relationships; or with new shapes, colors, forms. And instead of seeing the photograph as an innately distorting view of reality, we begin to see the photographic image as a new reality itself.
The Photographer’s Eye, by John Szarkowski. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 1964. Republished and copyright 2007.