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Summary The (analytic) philosophy of photography came into its own relatively recently, in the early 1980's. Since then, philosophical theorising about photography has largely been preoccupied with three issues: 1. Are photographs transparent; that is, is seeing a photograph (and related photographic media, like film and television) a way of indirectly seeing photographed objects? 2. How should one respond to scepticism about photography's aesthetic value? 3. In what does the peculiar epistemic value of photography consist? More recently, attention has turned towards a number of other issues, including: 4. What is the correct ontological category in which to locate photographs? 5. In what does the peculiar affective power of photographs consist? 6. How does digital photography challenge extant answers to questions 1-5. Answering these questions has involved philosophers drawing on related research in aesthetics concerning: pictorial experience and theories of depiction; fictionality; standards of correctness and interpretive norms more broadly; aesthetic value; and artist's intention. But philosophers interested in the philosophy of photography have also drawn on issues further afield, including: issues in the philosophy of action; information-theoretic accounts of mental content; sense-data and the possibility of indirect perception; necessary conditions for perception; and the nature of causation.
Key works The locus classicus for the theory of photographic transparency is Walton 1984. Although Walton's concern is the affect of photographs, the principal influence of this paper, apart from its prompting numerous replies in response to the idea of transparency itself, was its spawning the literature on the epistemic value of photographs. Walton's paper is best understood when read in conjunction with the postscript in Walton 2008, which clarifies a number of subtle issues arguably obscured in various early responses to, and replies from, Walton. Scepticism about photography's epistemic value is vigorously defended by Roger Scruton in Scruton 1981. This paper is likewise best understood when read in conjunction with later clarificatory replies by Scruton, including Scruton 2009. Key works on the epistemic value of photography include: Cohen & Meskin 2004, Abell 2010 and Walden 2005. Key works on the affective nature of photography (in addition to Walton 1984) include: Hopkins 2012, Pettersson 2011 and Currie 1999. Edited collections include: Walden 2010 and a special issue of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Costello & Lopes 2012. Papers in the latter address a number of new issues in the philosophy of photography, suggesting those working in the area are beginning to move beyond the traditional issues of transparency, aesthetic scepticism and epistemic value. Notable monographs include: Maynard 1997 and Friday 2002. Three monographs in the philosophy of film that discuss photography at length are: Currie 1995, Carroll 2008 and Gaut 2010. The latter is especially notable for its theorising about the nature of digital photography.
Introductions Useful survey articles include: Costello & Phillips 2009 and Maynard 2009
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  1. Ben Abadiano (2012). Ben Abadiano Photographs. Budhi: A Journal of Ideas and Culture 12 (2 & 3).
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  2. C. Abell & K. Bantinaki (eds.) (2010). Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press.
    This volume of specially written essays by leading philosophers offers to set the agenda for the philosophy of depiction.
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  3. Catharine Abell (2010). Cinema as a Representational Art. British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (3):273-286.
    In this paper, I develop a unified account of cinematic representation as primary depiction. On this account, cinematic representation is a distinctive form of depiction, unique in its capacity to depict temporal properties. I then explore the consequences of this account for the much-contested question of whether cinema is an independent representational art form. I show that it is, and that Scruton’s argument to the contrary relies on an erroneous conception of cinematic representation. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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  4. Catharine Abell (2010). The Epistemic Value of Photographs. In Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction. Oxford University Press
    There is a variety of epistemic roles to which photographs are better suited than non-photographic pictures. Photographs provide more compelling evidence of the existence of the scenes they depict than non-photographic pictures. They are also better sources of information about features of those scenes that are easily overlooked. This chapter examines several different attempts to explain the distinctive epistemic value of photographs, and argues that none is adequate. It then proposes an alternative explanation of their epistemic value. The chapter argues (...)
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  5. Catharine Abell (2005). Pictorial Implicature. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (1):55–66.
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  6. Pnina Abir-Am (1992). A Historical Ethnography of a Scientific Anniversary in Molecular Biology: The First Protein X-Ray Photograph (1984, 1934). [REVIEW] Social Epistemology 6 (4):323 – 354.
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  7. Dan Ablan (2007). Digital Photography for 3d Imaging and Animation. Sybex.
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  8. Zed Adams (2010). Photography and Philosophy: Essays on the Pencil of Nature Edited by Walden, Scott. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (3):319-320.
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  9. Alev Adil (2010). Becoming Photographic. Philosophy of Photography 1 (1):112-115.
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  10. Georg Aerni (2011). Sites & Signs: Photographs by Georg Aerni. Scheidegger and Spiess.
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  11. Trachtenberg Alan (2000). Lincoln's Smile: Ambiguities of the Face in Photography. Social Research 67 (1).
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  12. Jasmine Alinder (2009). Moving Images: Photography and the Japanese American Incarceration. University of Illinois Press.
    Alinder provides calibrated readings of the photographs from this period, including works by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Manzanar camp inmate Toyo Miyatake (who constructed his own camera to document the complicated realities of camp life) ...
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  13. Derek Allen, Commentary on Walton & Godden.
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  14. Panizza Almark (2011). Safe Spectatorship? Photography, Space, Terrorism and the London Bombings. Environment, Space, Place 3 (1):140-162.
    Drawing upon the notion of the uncanny, this article examines my documentary photography concerning the ‘everyday’ indeterminate and potentially ominous spaces around the London transport system following the bombing incidents on the 7th July, 2005. The photographs consist of reframing images found which draw attention to the lingering reminders of terrorism within the cityscape. This paper examines also how issues of representation, race, suspects, victims, protest,defiance and accusations can be evoked in the ficto-critical use of urban documentary photography.
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  15. Philip Alperson (ed.) (1992). The Philosophy of the Visual Arts. Oxford University Press.
    Most instructors who teach introductory courses in aesthetics or the philosophy of arts use the visual arts as their implicit reference for "art" in general, yet until now there has been no aesthetics anthology specifically orientated to the visual arts. This text stresses conceptual and theoretical issues, first examining the very notion of "the visual arts" and then investigating philosophical questions raised by various forms, from painting, the paradigmatic form, to sculpture, photography, film, dance, kitsch, and other forms on the (...)
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  16. Peter Alward (2012). Transparent Representation: Photography and the Art of Casting. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1):9-18.
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  17. Mark Amerika, Sean Cubitt, John Goto, Andreas Müller-Pohle & Michael Najjar (2010). Photography and Beyond: On Vilém Flusser’s Towards a Philosophy of Photography. Flusser Studies 10.
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  18. Dudley Andrew (1997). The Image in Dispute Art and Cinema in the Age of Photography.
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  19. Tom Ang (2000). Tao of Photography.
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  20. Stephen Frederick T. Antig Ii (2008). Stephen Frederick T. Antig II Photographs. Budhi: A Journal of Ideas and Culture 12 (2 & 3).
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  21. 03 Architects (ed.) (2014). Walter Mair Vs. 03 Arch.: A Dialogue Between Photography and Architecture. Park Books.
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  22. Rudolf Arnheim (1993). The Two Authenticities of the Photographic Media. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 51 (4):537-540.
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  23. Paloma Atencia-Linares (2012). Fiction, Nonfiction, and Deceptive Photographic Representation. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1):19-30.
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  24. Maryann Ayim (1984). The Sexual Semiotics of Photography. Semiotics:107-117.
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  25. A. Azoulay (2010). Getting Rid of the Distinction Between the Aesthetic and the Political. Theory, Culture and Society 27 (7-8):239-262.
    The point of departure of Berger and Mohr’s Another Way of Telling is what they call the discovery that ‘photographs did not work as we had been taught’. Since their book was written, the same feeling of ‘discovery’ has been expressed in other writings on photography. Often, these ‘discoveries’ have been linked with the way ‘ordinary’ people have been using photography. This paper addresses this recurrence and asks what are the discursive conditions under which this understanding of photography has been (...)
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  26. Ariella Azoulay (2012). Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography. Verso.
    What is photography? -- Rethinking the political -- The photograph as the source of civil knowledge -- Civil uses of photography.
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  27. Ariella Azoulay (2012). The Civil Contract of Photography. Zone Books.
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  28. Ariella Azoulay (2010). Philosophizing Photography/Photographing Philosophy. Philosophy of Photography 1 (1):7-8.
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  29. Ariella Azoulay (2010). What is a Photograph? What is Photography? Philosophy of Photography 1 (1):9-13.
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  30. Ulrich Baer (1995). Photography and History in Baudelaire. Semiotics:313-320.
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  31. Wilma A. Bainbridge, Phillip Isola & Aude Oliva (2013). The Intrinsic Memorability of Face Photographs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 142 (4):1323.
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  32. J. Bajorek (2010). Introduction: Special Section on Recent Photography Theory: The State in Visual Matters. Theory, Culture and Society 27 (7-8):155-160.
    This introduction to a special section on ‘Photography and the State’ reflects on trends in photography theory exemplified in essays by Jens Andermann, Ariella Azoulay, Andrea Noble, and Bronwyn Law-Viljoen. It suggests that the contributors make a powerful argument for photography’s emergent contribution to theories of the state and of sovereignty. It situates this work in the context of a growing body of scholarship attuned to photography’s role in political imagination in post-colonial and post-imperial spaces, and underscores movement of the (...)
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  33. Gary Banham (2002). Mapplethorpe, Duchamp and the Ends of Photography. Angelaki 7 (1):119-128.
    This paper presents an argument for seeing Marcel Duchamp and Robert Mapplethorpe as opposite ends of a tradition of negotiation of art with its conditions of production. The piece takes seriously Kant's suggestions concerning the fine arts and contests views of art that see the Kantian tradition as formally fixed.
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  34. Stella Baraklianou, Affect and Digital Technologies.
    Photography’s unique relationship with time, the idea of fixing an image in time has been altered with the invasion of digital technology. How revolutionary is the idea of the digital? What essentially differentiates the idea of a stilled moment in time with its (digital) potentiality to reverberate and pulsate within the same frame? From the capturing to the processing and printing, images are subjected to open-ended alterity. Discussing this through the work of Belgian artist David Claerbout and with reference to (...)
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  35. Dagmar Barnouw (1994). The Shapes of Objectivity: Siegfried Kracauer on Historiography and Photography. In Allan Megill (ed.), Rethinking Objectivity. Duke University Press 127.
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  36. Terry Barrett (1985). Photographs and Contexts. Journal of Aesthetic Education 19 (3):51.
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  37. Roland Barthes (1981). Camera Lucida Reflections on Photography /Roland Barthes ; Translated by Richard Howard. --. --. Hill and Wang,1981.
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  38. Gabriele Basilico (ed.) (2013). Common Pavilions: The National Pavilions in the Giardini of the Venice Biennale in Essays and Photographs. Scheidegger and Spiess.
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  39. Geoffrey Batchen (2002). Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History. The MIT Press.
    Essays on photography and the medium's history and evolving identity.
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  40. Geoffrey Batchen (1999). Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography. The MIT Press.
    " In this book, Geoffrey Batchen analyzes the desire to photograph as it emerged within the philosophical and scientific milieus that preceded the actual invention of photography.
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  41. Geoffrey Batchen, Mick Gidley, Nancy K. Miller & Jay Prosser (eds.) (2012). Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis. Reaktion Books.
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  42. N. Batkin (1996). Photography, Exhibition, and the Candid. Common Knowledge 5:145-165.
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  43. Norton T. Batkin (1991). Paul Strand's Photographs in Camera Work. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 16 (1):314-330.
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  44. André Bazin (2010). The Ontology of the Photographic Image. In Marc Furstenau (ed.), The Film Theory Reader: Debates and Arguments. Routledge
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  45. Richard Beaudoin & Andrew Kania (2012). A Musical Photograph? Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1):115-127.
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  46. Jennifer Bebb (2013). Beyond Auto Mode: A Guide to Taking Control of Your Photography. Wiley.
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  47. Jennifer Bebb (2010). Photo Fusion: A Wedding Photographers Guide to Mixing Digital Photography and Video. Wiley.
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  48. J. Beck (2011). Signs of the Sky, Signs of the Times: Photography as Double Agent. Theory, Culture and Society 28 (7-8):123-139.
    From Alfred Stieglitz to Trevor Paglen, photographs of the sky have engaged with the relationship between abstraction and representation. This article argues that Stieglitz’s attempt to convert the ‘natural’ abstraction of the sky into the ‘cultural’ abstraction of the modernist image opens a space through which recent photographers have moved to use the sky photograph as a means of interrogating issues of openness and concealment that are at once aesthetic and political. The invisibility of signs of military-industrial power embedded within (...)
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  49. Karen Beckman & Liliane Weissberg (eds.) (2013). On Writing with Photography. Univ of Minnesota Press.
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  50. Geoffrey Belknap (forthcoming). William Henry Fox Talbot. Beyond Photography: A Review. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A.
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