About this topic
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, Diarmuid & Mciver 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 2008, Carroll 2007 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 2001
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  1. Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke.Frank =Gohlke & Rebecca =Solnit (eds.) - 2007 - Center for American Places.
    Wind, water, and molten rock constantly tear apart and resculpt the natural world we live in, and people have always struggled to create structures that will permanently establish their existence on the land. Frank Golhke has committed his camera lens to documenting that fraught relationship between people and place, and this retrospective collection of his work by John Rohrbach reveals how people carve out their living spaces in the face of constant natural disruption. An acclaimed master of landscape photography, Golhke (...)
  2. Ben Abadiano Photographs.Ben Abadiano - 2008 - Budhi: A Journal of Ideas and Culture 12 (2).
  3. Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography Since the Sixties.Brett Abbott - 2010 - J. Paul Getty Museum.
    "Accompanies the exhibition Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the Sixties, held at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, June 29-November 17, 2010.".
  4. Cinema as a Representational Art.Catharine Abell - 2010 - 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?
  5. The Epistemic Value of Photographs.Catharine Abell - 2010 - 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 (...)
  6. Pictorial Implicature.Catharine Abell - 2005 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (1):55–66.
    It is generally recognised that an adequate resemblance-based account of depiction must specify some standard of correctness which explains how a picture’s content differs from the content we would attribute to it purely on the basis of resemblance. For example, an adequate standard should explain why stick figure drawings do not depict emaciated beings with gargantuan heads. Most attempts to specify a standard of correctness appeal to the intentions of the picture’s maker. However, I argue that the most detailed such (...)
  7. Philosophical Perspectives on Depiction.Catharine Abell & Katerina Bantinaki (eds.) - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume of specially written essays by leading philosophers offers to set the agenda for the philosophy of depiction.
  8. A Historical Ethnography of a Scientific Anniversary in Molecular Biology: The First Protein X-Ray Photograph (1984, 1934). [REVIEW]Pnina Abir-Am - 1992 - Social Epistemology 6 (4):323 – 354.
  9. Digital Photography for 3d Imaging and Animation.Dan Ablan - 2007 - Sybex.
  10. Ensaios Fotogr'afico.Luiz Eduardo Achutti - 1998 - Unidade Editorial Porto Alegre.
  11. A Photographer's Guide to Ohio.Ian Adams - 2011 - Ohio University Press.
  12. Photography and Philosophy: Essays on the Pencil of Nature Edited by Walden, Scott.Zed Adams - 2010 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68 (3):319-320.
  13. Becoming Photographic.Alev Adil - 2010 - Philosophy of Photography 1 (1):112-115.
  14. The Camera's Positioning: Brides, Grooms, and Their Photographers in Taipei's Bridal Industry.Bonnie Adrian - 2004 - Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 32 (2):140-163.
  15. Sites & Signs: Photographs by Georg Aerni.Georg Aerni - 2011 - Scheidegger & Spiess.
  16. Privation is Like a Face.Giorgio Agamben - 2010 - In Christopher Want (ed.), Philosophers on Art From Kant to the Postmodernists: A Critical Reader. Columbia University Press.
  17. Evidence and Graham Harman’s Third Table.Peter Ainsworth - 2015 - Philosophy of Photography 6 (1):36-50.
  18. Disappearance of the Body: An Interview with Cécile Bourne Farrell.Jananne Al-Ani - 2016 - Philosophy of Photography 7 (1):63-81.
  19. Lincoln's Smile: Ambiguities of the Face in Photography.Trachtenberg Alan - 2000 - Social Research 67 (1).
  20. The Future of Art in a Digital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness.Melvin L. Alexenberg - 2006 - Intellect.
    "This book offers a prophetic vision of art in a digital future.
  21. Moving Images: Photography and the Japanese American Incarceration.Jasmine Alinder - 2009 - 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) ...
  22. Unfit to Print: Contra Mag Uidhir on the Ontology of Photographic Artworks.Alexey Aliyev - 2016 - Estetika 53 (1):3-13.
    According to the orthodox view, photographic artworks are abstract objects. This view, however, has recently been challenged by Christy Mag Uidhir. In his article ‘Photographic Art: An Ontology Fit to Print’, he argues in favour of a nominalist construal of photographic artworks. My goal is to show that Mag Uidhir’s argument is unpersuasive.
  23. Photographic Diplomacy in the Postwar World: Unesco and the Conception of Photography as a Universal Language, 1946–1956.Tom Allbeson - 2015 - Modern Intellectual History 12 (2):383-415.
  24. Commentary on Walton & Godden.Derek Allen - unknown
  25. War Zone Rhetoric, Photography and the 2011 Riots in England.Panizza Allmark - 2012 - Environment, Space, Place 4 (1):120-134.
    In the August riots in England 2011, web sites provided up-to-date access to bare witness to the unsettling events that conveyed the essence of contemporary war and crisis reporting. These characteristics include events happening in real time, dramatic accounts, continuous coverage and multimedia footage, with also the inclusion of eyewitness stories and images. The rhetoric of war was used and dramatic photographs played a pivotal role in conveying the civil unrest as a ‘war zone.’ Significantly, the local environment becomes the (...)
  26. Afterimages: Belated Witnessing in the Photographs of the Armenian Catastrophe.Emmanuel Alloa - 2015 - Ournal of Literature and Trauma Studies 4 (1):43-65.
    The category of « postmemory » has been invoked by Marianne Hirsch to refer to a traumatic past which is not directly remembered in first person, but is handed down to later generations and is recalled through the mediation of narratives and images which become “prostheses” for a lack of direct memory. But how is it that these prosthetic recollections do not simply substitute for what lacks but seem to shape the very events they are meant to reproduce ? How (...)
  27. Safe Spectatorship? Photography, Space, Terrorism and the London Bombings.Panizza Almark - 2011 - 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.
  28. The Philosophy of the Visual Arts.Philip Alperson (ed.) - 1992 - 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 (...)
  29. El Fin Del Fin, Emancipacion Sin Utopia Y Apuesta Por El Canon Global.Lluís Alvarez - 1994 - Rivista di Estetica 34 (47):3-16.
  30. Transparent Representation: Photography and the Art of Casting.Peter Alward - 2012 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1):9-18.
  31. Photography and Beyond: On Vilém Flusser’s Towards a Philosophy of Photography.Mark Amerika, Sean Cubitt, John Goto, Andreas Müller-Pohle & Michael Najjar - 2010 - Flusser Studies 10.
  32. The Image in Dispute Art and Cinema in the Age of Photography.Dudley Andrew - 1997
  33. The Photographic Stare.Jorella Andrews - 2011 - Philosophy of Photography 2 (1):41-56.
    Using an image taken by Reuters' photographer Nicky Loh during the 2009 earthquake in Sumatra, this article rethinks in positive terms the experience of being captivated by photographs, including `disaster' photographs that are often described as problematically spectacularizing. In order to do this I bring together two propositions, that of the photograph as a uniquely articulated prosthetic stare on the one hand, and as an inorganic but powerful `agent' or `actor' on the other. My main theoretical resources come from Donna (...)
  34. Architecture in Michigan. A Representative Photographic Survey.Wayne Andrews - 1968 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 27 (1):118-118.
  35. Tao of Photography.Tom Ang - 2000
  36. Stephen Frederick T. Antig II Photographs.Stephen Frederick T. Antig Ii - 2008 - Budhi: A Journal of Ideas and Culture 12 (2 & 3).
  37. Shashin Genron.Hiroshi åoshima - 1989
  38. Transforming Images: How Photography Complicates the Picture (Review).D. Ã Aphrodite - 2003 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 37 (2):114-121.
  39. Media, Gestures, and Society: Dialogues Between Vilém Flusser and Fred Forest1.Priscila Arantes - 2009 - Flusser Studies 8.
  40. Mídia, Gestos E Sociedade Diálogos Entre Vilém Flusser E Fred Forest.Priscila Arantes - 2009 - Flusser Studies 8.
  41. Walter Mair Vs. 03 Arch.: A Dialogue Between Photography and Architecture.03 Architects (ed.) - 2014 - Park Books.
  42. The Two Authenticities of the Photographic Media.Rudolf Arnheim - 1993 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 51 (4):537-540.
  43. Four Arts of Photography: An Essay in Philosophy. [REVIEW]Paloma Atencia-Linares - 2018 - British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (3):327-329.
    Four Arts of Photography: An Essay in PhilosophyLopesDominic Mciverwiley & sons ltd. 2016. pp. 200. £80.50.
  44. Fiction, Nonfiction, and Deceptive Photographic Representation.Paloma Atencia-Linares - 2012 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (1):19-30.
  45. The Sexual Semiotics of Photography.Maryann Ayim - 1984 - Semiotics:107-117.
  46. Getting Rid of the Distinction Between the Aesthetic and the Political.A. Azoulay - 2010 - 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 (...)
  47. The Civil Contract of Photography.Ariella Azoulay - 2012 - Zone Books.
  48. Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography.Ariella Azoulay - 2012 - Verso.
    What is photography? -- Rethinking the political -- The photograph as the source of civil knowledge -- Civil uses of photography.
  49. Philosophizing Photography/Photographing Philosophy.Ariella Azoulay - 2010 - Philosophy of Photography 1 (1):7-8.
  50. What is a Photograph? What is Photography?Ariella Azoulay - 2010 - Philosophy of Photography 1 (1):9-13.
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