He used his reading of the essays as a stimulus to his own thinking about photography. In this long essay on Sontag’s theoretical writings, Bruss mentions the large number of detractors who find her essays lacking in readability and coherence, as well as far too instinctive to be conclusive. She argues that Sontag’s conclusion is that photography has provided a modern sensibility that was not chosen and with which one cannot argue.
Nevertheless, Bruss finds her essays engaging and thoughtful. “Seeing and Being Seen: A Response to Susan Sontag’s Essays on Photography.” 68, no. Although he finds Sontag’s book to be one of the most insightful contributions to the understanding of photography, Evernden questions her emphasis on the act of photography as basically one of aggression; he suggests that a more pluralistic approach might be more useful. “Only a Language Game.” In helped to initiate a change in the ways in which photographs are made and read by challenging the ultimate value of photography as art and its role as an instrument of knowledge, communication, and culture.
If photographs, as other art objects, bear moral implications, then photographic images can be read in more progressively ideological ways—ways that can suggest, for feminists, a reclaiming of the historical past.
Finally, if photographs do not determine one’s reading of them but rather provide a site for individual appropriation, then they also will allow women to reclaim lost ideological ground, first stolen from them by male-dominated notions of eminence in art (with its accompanying ideas of power, control, and subservience).
As for a primary reason for her skirting of this matter, no more obvious one exists than her actual tendency to treat the entire lot of photographers as homogeneous, even as she appears to single out individual talent like Diane Arbus.
One example of a corrective to this simplicity on Sontag’s part would be the November 13, 1976, number of Sontag restates one of her old and still sensible requests; in the final essay, as overwritten as the rest, she calls for a silence to the shutters, a plea for “an ecology not only of real things but of images as well.” . This chapter, written in 1978, contains Berger’s overwhelmingly positive response to Sontag’s book. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. Sayres comments on the disjunctive nature of Sontag’s essays, which makes them difficult to summarize but representative of Sontag at her best, both aloof and fascinated.—makes us lose interest, even makes us wish for a photograph every five pages.Another way of evaluating Sontag’s performance is provided us by our memory of the layout in Plato’s cave, which she alludes to in the first and last essays.Writer Franz Kafka in conversation is quoted as complaining that photography concentrates on the superficial and that it obscures the hidden life, providing not a more acute way of seeing but rather an overly simplified one.Meanwhile, philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer remarks that since the outer appearance is the picture of the inner, the expression of the face reveals the whole character.Again and again photography’s predatory nature is attacked, and artistic seriousness is denied the photographer’s efforts.Yet Sontag does not deal directly with a central issue: if photography transforms the world, then some aesthetic trophy is due it regardless of the vitiation of personal seeing and other social and psychical disturbances caused by the camera.Yet, it is undeniable that there are some photos that cause an emotional reaction deeper than simply observing a recorded point in time.Surely, there are photographs that cause more reaction than some modern art pieces. The first classification is the ‘time capture’ photo – an image with the sole purpose of recording a particular event or point in time.The Test of Time: The Power of the Photograph What is a photograph?The simplicity of taking a photograph leads many to ponder its artistic value.