An amazingly complete story, too
The book's editor Juliet Hacking has done a wonderful job in collating a very lively and accessible history of photography. Similar books that cover the broad sweep of the subject have been written by individuals who frequently show the author's bias but here thirty-one contributors write about their knowledge and enthusiasm for photography.
Though there are five basic chapters within each of these there are explored themes. For example, Chapter three covers twenty-two subjects with text and photos over two or four pages. Each of these is followed by a relevant photo, large on the page with an interesting visual feature called Focal Points where three or more thumbnails of part of the image are repeated, each with a detailed caption. I thought this visual idea was one of the strengths of the book and really pulls the reader into a photo to reveal something that isn't always apparent. I'm guessing but I think several hundred pictures have this intriguing treatment.
Another strength of the book is the comprehensive coverage. Every historically important photographer and genre is here (Avant-garde photography in Mexico gets a spread for example) but also the non-art but still creative output of fashion, advertising, conflict, press and paparazzi, globalisation. The twelve page index is also a good indicator of the depth of coverage.
This is really a dip-into reference book about photographic art from 1826 to the present. The theme essays and individual photographer's work are presented as spreads in a simple elegant layout with a 175 screen on a matt art paper. My only quibble would be the use of a flexibound cover rather than traditional hard covers.
'Photography: the whole story' could well become a standard reference title that is updated every few years to cover new developments and for the price I think its remarkable value for money.
Essays on various photographic themes have a timeline across the bottom of the spread.
Each of the five chapters use a spread like this to index the themes and their relevant photos.
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