Oxford School of Photography

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Daily Archives: August 30, 2014

Photography theory: a beginner’s guide

Bewildered by Berger? Stumped by Sontag? We read the essential photography theory so you don’t have to. Putting this simply here is a digest of the writings on photography by the great photography writers as seen in The Telegraph  Here is an example of what is on offer to give the chance to work out if you want to delve further

“The decisive moment”, an idea that has defined street photography and photojournalism as we know it, was first outlined in the preface to a book of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The essay starts with Cartier-Bresson charting his life so far as a photographer – from messing around with a Box Brownie as a child to co-founding Magnum Photos – before talking through his approach to photography.

According to Cartier-Bresson, there is an almost magical split-second in which events in the world – interactions between people, movement, light and form – combine in perfect visual harmony. Once it passes, it is gone forever. To capture such moments as a photographer you must be inconspicuous, nimble and attentive; working on instinct; responding to reality and never trying to manipulate it.

Composition cannot be planned, nor can it be added in afterwards. Cropping will invariably make a good shot worse and is unlikely to make a bad shot better. Camera settings shouldn’t be something the photographer even thinks about – taking a photograph should be like changing gears in a car.

In his own words:

“We photographers deal in things that are constantly vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth which can bring them back again.”

“Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move.”

“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organisation of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

How to sound as if you’ve read it:

Be ready and reactive. Don’t get hung up on kit and, most importantly, keep it real.


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Photography websites of the week

Each week The Telegraph finds another best photography website of the week, of course this is arbitrary but having looked through some of them whilst having a coffee break I thought it a useful page to book mark and so I share it with you. It goes back forever it seems so you can see the photography website of the week from 1853 if you want


The Argus C3 from Ilott Vintage http://www.ilottvintage.com

A helpful article on how to get your first book published as a photographer

Week beginning 18 August

Super Massive Black Hole is an online magazine, focusing on contemporary photography, which is available to download as a PDF three times a year

Week beginning 11 August

Cultural interviews and text on photography at Papercuts

Week beginning 4 August

Video: Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank, 2005

Week beginning 28 July

This new tool by Calumet allows assistants to promote themselves and professional photographers to find photography assistants.

Week beginning 21 July

Magnum photographer René Burri takes us on a journey through six images from his archive.

Week beginning 14th July

Erik Johansson talking about how he goes about creating his famous Surrealist Photographs

Week beginning 7 July

James Jowers‘s images of New York City in the 1960s

Week beginning 30 June

A series of images by Maja Flink who photographed generations, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons.

Week beginning 23 June

Top mobile photographers share their tips for stunning images.


Go here for the rest