...the content is literally mind-blowing. Bringing together rigorous theory, idiot proof 'how to' tutorials, artistic works that illustrate each concept and method might sound a bit too much for a book written by only two authors but somehow, it works....

The texts are extremely rigorous and well-researched but the authors never take readers' knowledge of any concept nor reference for granted. Nothing is too pedestrian: the tutorials are extremely detailed and info boxes regularly pop up on the side to explain in few words what is a magic lantern, a chiaroscuro or an installation. Who is Lacan, why Bauhaus matters....

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. .... read more

Régine Debatty

We Make Money Not Art


Reframing Photography is a wonderful accomplishment with its seamless treatments of theory and a liberated sense of photographs, how they can be made, and how they can look. It will end the senseless separation of photography and art, and technique from idea, right from the beginning.
It reframes photography education.

Terry Barrett

University of North Texas, USA



The essays effortlessly link photography to a history of ideas, not simply a history of cameras and chemical processes. The book does not separate historical work from contemporary work, nor does it separate technique from theory. Past and present are in constant communication with the reader who becomes aware of inter-generational, historical, technological, cultural and transdisciplinary influences in photographic practice. This is how the best teachers understand the world and relate information to their students. A contemporary education in photographic practice has come of age with this book.

Barbara DeGenevieve

School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA



I cannot believe how wonderful the book is. It is just how I teach, only in a more organized presentation! I just bought a couple dozen ping pong balls. I can't wait to have students do the Ganzfeld!

Roger sayre

Pace University



This is a timely book which will be of enormous help to photography and arts students. It combines photography history, useful descriptions of artist's practices and ideas, and technical information and tips, and encourages experimentation. The volume and website demystify a lot of aspects of practice that are not covered in more conventional books, and make it clear how enjoyable fine art photography can be.

Michelle Henning

University of the West of England, UK



Reframing Photography is excellent - very well-written, beautifully designed, clear and innovative in its structure - an ideal introduction to the current debates about theory and practice in photography.

Louise Milne

Edinburgh Napier University, UK



Reframing Photography, the 560-page encyclopedic book on the subject includes everything about photography and then some. The book is for students, teachers and those in the self-taught orbit who want to do it themselves with a little help.

There are fabulous essays written by the two authors, Rebekah Modrak and Bill Anthes, in each of the four subject parts, and they live up to the encyclopedia: dense, with history, science, and an interweaving of anecdotes of present day usage that reverberate with photography’s past ....

One of the great things about the book — which took seven years to write —  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. There seem to be no biases here, just a lot of great facts rounded up and some smart thoughtful commentary — with lots of pictures .... read more

Roberta Fallon

The Art Blog



Modrak and Anthes' work .... strikes a perfect balance between what one can find in technical handbooks on photography and what one should expect from a theoretically well-inspired study of the medium. The authors offer simultaneously a hands-on, "how to" manual of photography (they explain what a camera is, how it works, and how to use it) and a good overview of the most important concepts, ideas and hypotheses that have flourished in the field of photography history and theory since more or less three decades ....

Thanks to its very clear overall structure (the book is divided in four great parts: "vision", "light and shadow", "reproductive processes", and "editing/presentation/evaluation"), thanks also to its many and always well-chosen illustrations ..., and thanks finally to the global composition of the book (constructed as a real handbook, open to use in the class-room as to self-study, and well supported by an accompanying website), Reframing Photography really manages to make the reader get what he or she is looking for: a synthetic introduction to "all" aspects of photography....

... Modrak and Anthes confront their readers with an astonishingly wide panorama of photographic pictures and uses of photography, bringing together what other studies and approaches keep apart. ... they also propose an amazingly well-made "how to do" manual of old and new techniques, featuring both a hands-on training in Photoshop (and many other software programs that any photographer and any photography scholar should know) and a detailed description and instruction of numerous apparently old-fashioned dimensions of analogue photography ....

Finally, and this is a third major achievement of the book, Reframing Photography does not merely juxtapose the technical and the theoretical. Modrak and Anthes succeed in showing the historical and theoretical impact and underpinnings of the technical issues they debate .... read more

Jan Baetens

Leonardo Reviews
Leonardo Online: Art, Science & Technology

What students are saying ...


I really enjoy how this book does a great job of connecting science, art, and history along with the technical info of each topic covered. Also it features great artist examples, such as, Olafur Elisson’s “The Weather Project,” which I found to be really fascinating and inspiring. I am taking astronomy at the moment, so I would love to be able to experience a mock up of the sun and be able to be so engulfed in a room of light like that. I think it could be interesting to experiment with different concentrations of various types and colors of light in the future. Overall, I found the history review - from Plato all the way to group f/64 - useful and informative and I am excited to explore the properties of light and its effects more and more.

The chapters [Parts 3 + 4: Reproductive Processes, Editing, and Presentation] were really informative because I’ve never experimented with the various image transfers which are reviewed. Knowing more ways of producing a final image is always helpful. I really like the uniqueness of solvent transfers and the texture which transferring images to wood creates.... I always find review of technical aspects useful and this book does an excellent job thoroughly explaining every aspect in the process of photography within several contexts. The chapter goes through a ton of Photoshop stuff, simple stuff, but I always find myself forgetting how to use key tools after not using one for awhile, so having a clearly explained reference is beneficial.

Jenaya Cristafir

I usually think of photography as a fairly modern invention, but it was interesting to go back to the basics of light and shadow that have been around for centuries. Techniques have certainly changed. I like the idea of cinematographers learning to “glamorize starlets by practicing their craft on oranges” (139). I have done some basic lighting practice before, but it was interesting learning how projectors work to get the right ratio for an image when the light is coming from an angle. It makes so much sense, I can’t believe I had never thought about it before! I’m interested in experimenting with the color temperature of light. It would be interesting to see how that could really change a scene. I also love how this book shows inexpensive ways to get the same effects as professional equipment. Using pantyhose as a way to diffuse light from a flash is brilliant! I’m definitely going to try that one.

Sometimes I am just blown away by other artists and their amazing ideas that I would never have thought of such as Paul Ramirez-Jonas’s work with a toy train moving back and forth on a track, or Cai Guo-Qiang’s fireworks and smoke effects. It is amazing how lighting can completely change the mood or effect of an image. I am also surprised how much lighting can convey time, either time of day or time period.... I hadn’t thought about the silhouettes used by Apple as coming from a lighting technique in photography! Learning blows my mind.

April Hyaden

The first reading really was a crash course for me, it became evident even just trying to purchase my 35mm camera how very little I knew about cameras and how they work. I’ve built pinhole cameras in my childhood, and owned/operated a digital for most of my adult life, but I never really understood a lot of the features or limitations of what I was working with. Reading this not only helped me understand how to operate cameras most efficiently , but how cameras operate on the inside.

Jayson Radmer


This reading [Part 1: Vision] was very informative and a good instructional tool. Not too dry or dull, it was a good review of camera basics. It was a good way to learn new and proper terminology. I enjoyed that the authors made a connections to and explained the process of human vision. Reading the text definitely got me excited for the quarter!

Francia Krupa Vahdani