What shapes our response to a photograph? Where does the meaning we ascribe to it come from? And how important to our reading of it are the photographer’s intentions? In a dazzling example of photography writing – an exploration of the photographic medium through 120 images, some familiar, some surprising – David Campany shows us that how we think about photographs is just as important as what we think about them.
Rejecting the conventions of chronology and the heightened status afforded to ‘classics’ in traditional accounts of the history of the medium, Campany’s selection of photographs is an expertly curated and personal one – mixing fine art prints, film stills, documentary photographs, fashion editorials and advertisements. In this playful new take on the history of photography, anonymous photographers stand alongside photography pioneers, 20th-century talents and contemporary practitioners. Each photograph is accompanied by Campany’s highly readable commentary, which strives to guide the reader in their own interpretation and understanding of the image itself.
In a visual culture in which we have become accustomed to not looking, Campany helps us to see.