About the Book

In an accessible yet complex way, Rebekah Modrak and Bill Anthes explore photographic theory, history and technique to bring photographic education up to date with contemporary photographic practice. The book Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice is a broad and inclusive rethinking of photography that approaches the medium across time periods, across traditional themes, and through varied materials. Reframing Photography compellingly represents four concerns common to all photographic practice:

  • Vision
  • Light & Shadow
  • Reproductive Processes
  • Editing, Presentation & Evaluation

Each Part encourages you to think more broadly and penetratingly about photography with an essay investigating a diverse range of artworks, photographic histories and ideas and related disciplines. Following each essay, the Part continues with a "how-to" Tools, Materials, Processes section that describes related photographic equipment, materials and methods with concise explanations, step-by-step instructions, and clear diagrams.


Brief Book Overview


The ESSAY "Seeing , Perceiving, and Mediating Vision" discusses ...

active and passive approaches to vision and recording,
visual mechanisms (including sea creatures, humans, and cameras),
Ann Hamilton's mouth cameras,
David Hockney's and Joyce Neimanas's dynamic photographs,
a brief history of photographic clarity and fuzz,
Uta Barth's photographs of a peripheral subject,
the Ganzfeld,
Ralph Eugene Meatyard's attempts to see without focus,
Oliver Sacks's study of a man who regained sense of sight,
Gestalt theory,
John Baldessari's and Garry Winogrand's broken rules of composition,
defining space through linear perspective,
architectural, framed, televised, and online windows as frames for a view,
viewpoints from armored cars in Iraq,
Tim Hawkinson's floating eye,
influencing visual perception through landscape design,
the fear of open space in environment and image,
sequential perception in Asian land and representation,
mediating vision, the camera obscura as observatory,
Janet Cardiff's walks,
Franz John's military bunker camera obscuras,
vision in flux as scientific and artistic experiment,
nineteenth-century optical toys and Liza McConnell's contemporary viewer-operated contraptions,
Victorian entertainment and Merry Alpern's sex club photographs,
the New Vision's techniques that attempt to make strange the familiar,
mountain-climbing, space travel, and other visual feats,
Paul Ramirez Jonas's kite cameras,
Google Earth,
viewing attention and Internet strategies,
and more...

Tools, Materials, Processes

  • construct a camera obscura
  • operate a lens
  • digitally change depth of field
  • create a stereoscopic image
  • record with a small, medium, large, pinhole, or cell phone camera
  • scan with a flat bed scanner or photo copier
  • control aperture and shutter speed settings


The ESSAY "Light and Shadow" discusses ...

flicker films,
Plato's allegory of the cave,
H.P. Robinson's allegorical images,
working with the absence of light,
Tony Conrad's slow emulsions,
photography as fairy magic and sun drawings,
Adam Fuss's photograms,
Hiroshi Sugimoto's feature-length exposures,
Cai Guo-Qiang's explosions,
light as cancerous radiation,
light and shadow in city planning,
contrast and lighting in works by Rineke Dijkstra, Jacob Riis, Weegee, Adrienne Salinger, and others,
O. Winston Link's environmental light,
darkness and light as metaphors for knowledge, morality, and power,
pools of light in Expressionism, film noir, and works by Hans Bellmer, Esther Bubley, and Anna Gaskell,
Group f/64,
available light in the work of Roy DeCarava,
Yinka Shonibare's interpretation of Dorian Gray,
public projected images,
Indonesian shadow play,
Gregory Barsamian's kinetic sculptures,
flickering portraits by Christian Boltanski,
Kara Walker's silhouettes,
and more...

Tools, Materials, Processes

  • control contrast, intensity and direction of light
  • work with natural and artificial lights
  • work with projectors
  • control the color of light
  • construct inexpensive reflectors and diffusers
  • meter light
  • play with shadows
  • use projection screens


The ESSAY "Copying, Capturing, and Reproducing" discusses ...

the photograph as physical imprint,
Walter Benjamin and the aura of the work of art,
Otsuka Museum of Art's full scale reproductions,
genetic and photographic copies,
Sherrie Levine's photographs of photographs,
the implications of cloning,
Edward Steichen's exhibitions of world events,
Felix Gonzalez-Torres's stacks of prints,
collecting cartes-de-visite and facebook friends,
a brief survey of printing technologies,
advertising and the industrial revolution,
transmitting photographs for mass media,
picture magazines to grass roots journalism and cell phones,
material waste and collage,
collage by the Futurists, Dadaists, Fluxists, Romare Bearden, Betty Hahn, and others,
reproduction and Pop Art,
a guide to legal rights to photograph,
Google's Street View,
Shizuka Yokomizo's photographs of strangers,
the ethics of reproduction in war photography,
Native Americans and photographing as an act of power,
re-photographic survey projects,
rephotography as a way to deal with trauma,
Civil War reenactments as photographic acts,
and more...

Tools, Materials, Processes

  • record surfaces with rubbings
  • transfer images with solvent, inkjet, acrylic medium, or woodcut
  • record, process, and print film
  • create a darkroom or digital contact sheet and contact composites
  • process digital images with Adobe Bridge or Adobe Lightroom
  • color manage and print digital images
  • print at commercial labs and presses
  • create portraits with photo booths


The ESSAY "Series and Sequence" discusses ...

Sarah Charlesworth's recontextualized newspapers,
a comparison of The Family of Man by Edward Steichen and Steve McQueen,
typologies by the Bechers, Karl Blossfeldt, Dan Graham, and others,
the photographic archive as a tool of social control,
series-based portraiture by artists August Sander, VALIE EXPORT, Claude Cahun, Bea Nettles, Annette Messager, and Sophie Calle,
the passage of space and time in works by Ed Ruscha, Duane Michals, Minor White, William Christenberry, and Atta Kim,
photographic documention of artistic process,
observation and experimentation,
the photobook as a traveling idea,
the slide show as performed sequence,
Eadweard Muybridge and the illusion of motion,
sequential narrative in works by Jan Groover, Eleanor Antin, and Chris Marker,
compressing time in video works by Andy Warhol and Paul Pfeiffer,
and more...

The ESSAY "Series and Sequence" discusses ...

the theory of semiotics,
text and image as political tools in the work of Jacob Riis, the FSA, "Have you Seen Their Faces", and "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men",
captions and photographs in the picture magazine and weekly tabloid,
Pat Ward Williams's handwritten retellings,
Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan's photo essay parody,
Bill Owen, Gay Block, and Clarissa Sligh's stories of suburbia and family,
photographs that counter the voice of authority,
posters by the Guerrilla Girls,
installations by Carrie Mae Weems and Glenn Ligon,
instructional text in the work of Erwin Wurm,
Gillian Wearing, Tony Oursler, and the spoken word,
pictures of words, 
appropriation and photomontage,
The Billboard Liberation Front and cultural jamming,
and more...

Tools, Materials, Processes: Editing

  • resize digital images
  • work with digital tools
  • control image contrast and tone in the darkroom and digitally
  • digitally correct color casts
  • retouch prints and digital images
  • collage with paste or digital layers
  • integrate handmade and alternative type
  • integrate text with digital images

Tools, Materials, Processes: Presentation

  • accordion-bind a book
  • create high quality print on demand books
  • mount, mat, and frame a print
  • illuminate images in a lightbox
  • build an online portfolio or webpage
  • create an interactive web-based artwork
  • animate images with thaumatropes, zoetropes or flip books

Tools, Materials, Processes: Evaluation

  • become a considerate viewer and interpreter
  • choose an effective critique method



Regine Debatty, We Make Money Not Art

 “... the content is literally mind-blowing …The texts are extremely rigorous and well-researched …. Another quality of the book is that it doesn't abstract photography from its social context, discussing issues such as censorship in military operation, the place of photography in social networks like facebook, or comparing notions of originality and reproduction in photography to the same notions in genetics, etc.”

Roberta Fallon, The Art Blog

“Reframing Photography, the 560-page encyclopedic book on the subject includes everything about photography and then some…. One of the great things about the book is its underlying premise — that everybody uses photography now, and that for some artists, photography is one, but not the only tool in their studio. The authors ... understand that the future of fine art photography might look considerably different than a simple show of framed works hung on a wall. And because of that open interpretation of the field, the book embraces every possible use of the tool and discusses it with open mind.…”