Photography: A Cultural History

Mary Warner Marien
Laurence King

Now in its 3rd edition, you might be wondering why this colossal text deserves yet another review? It’s simple. This book provides a concise history of our beloved photograph, and places images within the context of their day. Today, photos are disposable with the constant changing of status updates in the social networking world; at times images can lose their meaning.

The collection operates as a textbook, but don’t let that put you off. It’s incredibly accessible and a key reader for anyone interested in contemporary image making. The intelligent commentary transcends photography and relates to the impact the camera has had on the way we communicate.

Marien, an Emeritus Professor at Syracuse Uni­versity, uses a scholarly, but pragmatic, approach to understanding the photograph both in its production and consumption. She traces the steps from daguerreotype to digital with zeal looking at portraiture, documentary, war, mass market, advertising and art photography.

Photography is ultimately about interpretation, and this book explores the potential of that very notion.

Cherie Federico