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Publisher's Summary

First published in 1973, this is a study of the force of photographic images, which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sontag here develops further the concept of "transparency". When anything can be photographed, and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely, with no expectations of discovering what it means. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, with the most famous being "In Plato's Cave", make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society.

©2003 Susan Sontag (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A brilliant analysis of the profound changes photographic images have made in our way of looking at the world and at ourselves over the last 140 years." ( The Washington Post Book World)
"Every page of On Photography raises important and exciting questions about its subject and raises them in the best way." ( The New York Times Book Review)
" On Photography is to my mind the most original and illuminating study of the subject." (Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Deb
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 10-18-13

I'm Glad I Bought, Despite Some Negative Reviews

What three words best describe Jennifer Van Dyck’s voice?

Okay

Any additional comments?

I was concerned that this book would be negative about photography, based on some low star review(s). However, I think Sontag simply points out the many different points of views and backgrounds that photographers express through their work. I feel like Sontag is also giving a valuable history lesson of the leading photographers as well. She seems to also have admiration where she feels it's due, towards photography and photographers. After all, she was Annie Leibovitz's partner for over a decade, encouraged and admired her photography too. I agree with Sontag about both the negative and positive impact that photography can have. I'm glad I decided to listen. A good addition to my MA in photojournalism.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

one of the classics on photography

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It is an easy listen and is one of the most important books on Photography

Who was your favorite character and why?

Hmm.. it is a selection of essays. The author (not a photographer) was able to write about how photography has influenced the world and been influenced

What about Jennifer Van Dyck’s performance did you like?

She has an easy voice to listen to

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Photography's influence on the world

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic, but would rather read.

If you could sum up On Photography in three words, what would they be?

Machine gun thoughts

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed this, but I'd recommend getting a non-audiobook version of it. The cadence at which thought provoking sentiments are shared is just too much for an audiobook. You'll want to re-read lines, see names, etc. It's well performed though, if a little monotonous.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A picture is worth...,

I found Ms Sontag’s work to be an erudite, informative,historically illuminating journey through the mechanical, Intellectual and artistic processes that reside, sometimes uneasily, under the broad mantel;PHOTOGRAPHY. Well written and wonderfully narrated!! Thank you from a rank amateur photographer!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Essential Book on Photography

This book has deeply impacted me many years ago and has become a constant reference. I find myself going back to Susan Sontag’s profound text over and over again. This is the first time I hear it in audio form and I thought it was very good. Narration is clear, paused and deliberate so that it is easy to listen to and follow the complex thoughts and reflect as you go. If you are a photography lover or interested in philosophy and contemporary issues Sontag’s essays won’t disappoint.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Truly insightful and definitive non-fiction book

What made the experience of listening to On Photography the most enjoyable?

This is one of the best books around if your interested in some incredibly penetrating thoughts about photography, its history and its place in the modern world. A minor downside is that its a bit old and doesn't deal with some new issues in photography.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It's non-fiction so no exciting finale other than people are still taking photos 😎

What about Jennifer Van Dyck’s performance did you like?

Straightforward and good for the long haul

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

This is one non-fiction book that wouldn't make a good film.

Any additional comments?

Susan Sontag was brilliant. I wish she had lived to comment on what's going on with photography now.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic

The informational approach to the subject is told with such a great literary style that simply captures the audience's mind , concise and classic, perfect pace and tone for the subject, love every bit of it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Deep

I enjoyed it very much--took me right back to my graduate studies and the sheer enjoyment of disciplined scholarly analysis and the "weighing and considering" of insights that spring forth. I will listen to it again!

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Colvin
  • Louisville, KY, United States
  • 12-17-11

Pompas art school babble

Any additional comments?

Typical holier than thou, pompas poser art school blather. I had to endure endless hours of self gratifying, self agrandizing lectures like this when I attended art school. These were delivered both professors who had never spent a day making art (or making a living from art either) in the real world, and student wanna bes (all of whom are today are gainfully employed as waiteresses, bag boys or art school professors). Pure and unadulterated BS!

11 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Super fancy words I could hardly understand

Nice story but way too wordy and long. Good audio to fall asleep to.
This really doesn't fulfill my desire for learning photographic history.

1 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Graham
  • 09-12-15

An excellent essay on photography

What did you like most about On Photography?

I have known about this book for decades but have avoided it as I always through it to be too much like a text book and highbrow. To be frank I would say that this is not a book to be read by a beginner in photography but if you do want to read why photography is a welcomed art and is valued then this book is the one to read.

it is well written though it can get somewhat tied up in jargon and I do wish it was in more plain english. But it is inspiring and interesting and when I started to read I really did wish to want to continue.

I have been a photographer for over 40 years and I know most of the well known and some less well known photographers but the book throws new light on the photographers I thought I knew and explains. like an artists painting, what the point of the image is and its impact.

I have this in both hardback and Audile versions and Will continue to delve into the book. On the downside, besides the cover there are no images in the book so when the book was initially published in the 1970s it would have been somewhat difficult to research the images and photographs Susan Sontag refers to. Now with the internet its a doddle and in so in may ways helps you appreciate even more the essays of the author.

Who was your favorite character and why?

N/A

What does Jennifer Van Dyck bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She makes me imagine she is Susan Sontag.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Nope, its a text book!!!

Any additional comments?

Shame there can be no images!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • 09-04-13

hard going

What made the experience of listening to On Photography the most enjoyable?

This is a must read book for those interested in photography. This is not a book to listen to that will tell you how to improve your photography. This is a book that relays the style and the setting out of photographers and their work. This is of interest but I found the narrator somewhat aggravating with no real passion for what she was reading.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Bring more passion into the reading of the subject!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

Any additional comments?

I've given it three stars, which should of been a 5 as this is an important book in terms of photographic background

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • I. P. Gearing
  • 03-07-18

The classic book on photography

If you want to seriously study the form of photography then you have to read this book sooner or later. Make it sooner.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • BellaNaylor
  • 09-10-18

Great to hear this in audio.

It's much easier to digest in audio form. I did a photography degree but you don't need that to read this just a keen interest in photography and the way we see the world as people.
It took me a while to get through though because it is such dense subject matter and I needed to take it a little at a time.

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  • Andrea
  • 08-10-15

A classic

Sontag was a great wordsmith, and in this work she gives some great insights into the history and relevance of photography. I think it is as relevant now as it was in the pre-digital age.