A Photo Teacher |

Photographers At Work | Similar Concerns, Different Approaches

Posted in PHOT 154 by Paul Turounet on July 23, 2010



Select two photographers discussed in the textbook, Photography – A Cultural History, who share similar conceptual concerns, yet have different approaches to their subject matter, whether it be visual, aesthetic, technical and/or in terms of presentation.  Write a critical inquiry | comparison and contrast of the two photographers, their work and their approaches to photography.  Additional research on the photographers should be conducted, including viewing photographs at area museums | galleries, looking at photographer monographs and photography-related websites, including Inside The Digital Vault – Photographic Archives, Collections, Blogs and the Social Discourse of Photography.


Write a critical review of one of the following exhibitions (you’ll need to include an image of yourself at the exhibition):

Boundless: A California Invitational at the Museum of Photographic Arts

Lewis Baltz – Nevada at the Joseph Bellows Gallery

Art, Politics, and the Reinvention of a Medium at the Museum of Contemporary Art – La Jolla

DeLIMITations: A Survey of the 1821 United States-Mexico Border at the Museum of Contemporary Art – La Jolla

Extensions of Photography at the UCSD University Art Gallery

Matt Eich – Carry Me Ohio at jdc Fine Art


If you’re interested in visiting a gallery or museum for the Exhibition Critical Review, you may want to look at Photograph Magazine for the current listing of exhibitions.


The critical inquiry | comparison and contrast or critical review should include the following discussion:


Brief Introduction

Introduce the two photographers, including the photographer’s name, their shared conceptual concern and how they’ve each approached the subject matter in their own individual manner, including the techniques / processes used, and any other appropriate background information.

Discuss each photographer’s work in general as well as mention significant aspects of the historical and cultural context in which each photographer worked in.

Discuss important technical aspects, such as equipment and/or processes used, that contribute to an understanding each photographer’s work from a descriptive and interpretive context.

For Critical Review Only

If you’re writing a critical review, include the number of works in the exhibition and sizes of the works. (see formatting style on the Collector Daily – example: Thomas Roma: In the Vale of Cashmere @ Stephen Kasher – including JTF – just the facts).



Compare and contrast each photographers’ work in general terms of the formal considerations that inform how their photographs look and reveal content | subject matter, including the aesthetic considerations discussed in Beyond The Surface | Thinking About Photographs and Seeing Photographs. The discussion should focus attention on how the use of particular aesthetic considerations contribute to the interpretive possibilities of each photographers work.  Specifically address the following considerations:


Content | Subject Matter

What is photographed, genre of photography, the circumstances in which the photograph was made and the particular details that inform the nature of the thing itself (keep in mind that the thing itself and the subject matter are two different considerations).

How Each Photographers Work Looks

Aesthetic considerations (use of frame | compositional balance | use of line, shapes, volume | description of texture) | vantage point and point of view | moment of exposure).

Visual considerations (color, grayscale (black and white) and/or an alternative visual sensibility such as a collage or montage | light or dark | flat or contrasty).

Use of light (type of lighting | quality of lighting).

Scale and presentation considerations.



Compare and contrast what concerns, ideas, and/or curiosities each photographer’s work reveals, suggests and/or implies to you, including emotional, psychological, historical, sociological, cultural implications and considerations, so as to begin to understand its meaning.

What is each photographers work about?

What does it represent or express?

How did it come to be?

Within what tradition / movement does it belong?

Are there references outside of photography (ie. painting, film, writing, etc…) that inform how each photographers work was made?

How has psychological, historical, sociological and/or cultural contexts shaped its’ creation and your reading of each photographers work?

Does it reinforce or disrupt preconceptions?

What purpose does it serve?

What is satisfying and dissatisfying about each photographers work?

Are there moral, ethical, gender, identity and/or cultural issues and concerns to consider?

What does each photographers work mean to you?

Does it change your view of something?



From an evaluative perspective, compare and contrast each photographers work in terms of its’ effectiveness in communicating the intended idea(s) and meaning(s), including the conceptual framework of each photographers work and the visual language used (use of aesthetic considerations as well as level of technical execution and/or presentation).  It is important to develop persuasive support and argument for your critical judgments.

What criteria will be used to evaluate the work?  (art theories including realism, expressionism, formalism or instrumentalism)

Realism – to accurately portray the thing itself that affirms a means of discovery and proposing new ways to see the world.

Expressionism – individuality of the artist to portray the intensity of their feelings, experience and/or emotions.

Formalism – upholds the importance of formal considerations and not the judgment of narrative content, psychological associations or the imitation of objects.

Instrumentalism – art is in the service of causes that reflects social content and insists that art is subservient to, rather than independent of, social concerns.

Does each photographers’ use of aesthetic considerations, presentation and technical execution support the intended meaning(s) of their work?

If the work seeks to inform and influence social awareness and change, is it effective?

Does it unwittingly or intentionally cause social harm?

Is this a good use of photography to communicate the intended meaning?

How does each photographers work compare and/or contrast with similar images in other media?

What do others have to say about each photographers work and their work?


Brief Conclusion

Summarize your overall critical inquiry and examination of each photographer and their work, including what lasting impression(s) each has made.




List all materials referenced in the critical inquiry | comparison and contrast, including websites, books and articles used.  Include at least two images made by each photographer.



Write a critical inquiry | comparison and contrast of  two photographers, their work and their approaches to photography that addresses thorough discussion of the following:

Brief Introduction




Brief Conclusion



The critical inquiry | comparison and contrast is required to be typed and submitted by the due date listed on the course calendar.



Comments Off on Photographers At Work | Similar Concerns, Different Approaches

%d bloggers like this: