Best Photo Essay Books

Beyond pockets of debate about photomontage and collage there really wasn’t.

Even the great image editors of the last century, from Stefan Lorant and André Malraux to Franz Roh and Robert Delpire spoke little and wrote less about how they actually operated. For over a century nearly all photographic culture – from mainstream magazine photo essays to independent books and website presentations – has involved the ordering of of images.

‘Composition’ is not confined to the rectangle of the viewfinder; it is also a matter of the composition of the set, series, suite, typology, archive, album, sequence, slideshow, story and so forth.

So are we to presume editing and its effects upon us are simply ineffable, beyond language, pursued entirely intuitively?

Dutch books, Japanese books, Latin American, German, and so on.

These anthologies are invaluable because the area of study is still so new and there’s still much to discover, but they also frustrate because the writing on each entry is usually short.

For example, Caroline Blinder writes extensively on the intersection of photography and literature in the USA; Ian Walker’s books on surrealism are attentive to image/text interplay; the reliably provocative David Evans writes on everything from photomontage and Situationism to Jean-Luc Godard and Wolfgang Tillmans, always with an interest in editing.

I look forward to his forthcoming book , a primer on the history of photo editing.

Today, Payne notes, the qualities that made these institutions appealing in the first place—”their monumental size, heavy construction, and distinctive (but not easily altered floor plan)— have made them difficult to repurpose.” But those that aren’t being left to ruin are being remade—as condos or prisons.

It hardly appears in writings and discussions before the twenty-first century.


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