View Full Version : Criticizing Photographs

12-19-2008, 02:01 PM
This is a book that every photographer should read.

Criticizing Photographs : An Introduction to Understanding Images, 4th Edition
Terry Barrett, Ohio State University
Softcover, 312 pages
©2006, ISBN-13 9780072977431

12-19-2008, 05:19 PM
hi fs

can you tell us a little more?

what theory of "understaning images" is proposed by the writer?

what did you get from this publication?

12-28-2008, 11:13 AM
Hi Ray,

The writer proposes many ways to "understand images" and would lead you to see/propose/understand other ways as well. I get a more complete way of looking at photographs, to understand them in other contexts, and to understand how I can cogently comment on them to others.


Criticizing Photographs, Fourth Edition, Terry Barrett
Tentative (10/20/04)
1. About Art Criticism
Defining Criticism
Sources of Criticism
Kinds of Criticism
The Backgrounds of Critics
Stances Toward Criticism
Relations Between Critics and Artists
Criticizing Criticism
The Value of Criticism
2. Describing Photographs: What Do I See?
Defining Description
Descriing an Exhibition: Avedon's In the American West
Describing Subject Matter
Describing Form
Describing Medium
Describing Style
Comparing and Contrasting
Internal and External Sources of Information
Description and Interpretation
Description and Evaluation
The Importance of Description to Readers
Principles for Describing Photographs
3. Interpreting Photographs: What Does It Mean?
An Exemplary Interpretation
About Interpretation
Defining Interpretation
The Objects of Interpretation
Interpretive Claims and Arguments
Interpretive Perspectives
Three Interpretations of Eleanor
Other Interpretive Strategies
Combinations of Interpretive Approaches
"Right" Interpretations
Interpretations and the Artist's Intent
Interpretations and Feelings
Interpretation, Meaning, and Personal Significance
The Community of Interpreters
4. Types of Photographs
Categories of Photographs
New Categories
Descriptive Photographs
Explanatory Photographs
Interpretive Photographs
Ethically Evaluative Photographs
Aesthetically Evaluative Photographs
Theoretical Photographs
5. Photographs and Contexts
Internal Context
Original Context
External Context
External Contexts and Connotations
Interpreting Barbara Kruger's Untitled ("Surveillance"), with Contextual Information
"Surveillance" and Internal Context
"Surveillance" and Original Context
"Surveillance" and External Context
Barbara Kruger's Untitled ("Surveillance"), and the Categories
Descriptive Photographs
Explanatory Photographs
Interpretive Photographs
Ethically Evaluative Photographs
Aesthetically Evaluative Photographs
Theoretical Photographs
The Interpretive Process: A Summary
6. Judging Photographs: Is It Good?
Examples of Judgmental Statements
Positive Judgments
Negative Judgments
Implied Judgments
Opposing Judgments
Comparative Judgments
Jugments and Reasons
Judgments and Criteria
Different Criteria
Other Criteria
Choosing Among Criteria
Differing Judgments
Judgments Are Arguments
Judgments and Preferences
Intentionalism and Judgments
The Objects of Judgments
Judgments of Robert Mapplethorpe's Photographs
Hilton Kramer's and Grace Glueck's Views of Mapplethorpe's Work
Other Critics' Views of Mapplethorpe's Work
7. Photography Theory: Is It Art? Is It True? Is It Moral?
Photography Theory and Practice
Ontological Concerns: What Is a Photograph?
Digital Images and Ontology
Epistemological Concerns: Are Photographs True?
Realist Theory
Conventionalist Theory
Photographic Truth
Aesthetic Concerns: Is Photography Art?
Modernism and Postmodernism
Digital Images and Aesthetic Concerns
Ethical Concerns: Are Photographs Moral?
Marxist Theory and Ethical Photography
Feminist Theory and Ethical Photography
Multicultural Theory and Ethical Photography
Queer Theory and Ethical Photography
Postcolonial Theory and Ethical Photography
8. Writing and Talking About Photographs
Writing About Photographs
Observing Works and Taking Notes
Quick-Writes and Careful-Writes
Students' Interpretive Writings
Building Visual Interpretations
Making Personal Meanings
Judging Photographs
Writing Criteria Statements
Three Student Views of Immediate Family by Sally Mann
Metacritical Writing
Writing Artists' Statements
Processes of Writing
Talking About Photographs
Studio Critiques
Kinds of Critiques
Conducting Successful Critiques
Principles For Effective Critiques