29 December 2015

The Thames & Hudson
Dictionary Of Photography

The Thames & Hudson Dictionary Of Photography
The Thames & Hudson Dictionary Of Photography contains more than 1,000 entries, two-thirds of which are capsule biographies of significant photographers. As editor Nathalie Herschdorfer notes in her preface, the ubiquity of digital information means that "it may seem almost perverse to publish a dictionary on paper." Her purpose, she explains, was "to publish a book that reduces a seething mass of information to a structured and orderly work of reference." The resulting Dictionary is not only authoritative but also elegantly designed and printed.

Some of the world's most famous photographs are included: Richard Avedon's portrait of Dovima with two elephants, Eddie Adams's snapshot of a Viet Cong prisoner's execution, Robert Capa's picture showing the death of a Spanish Civil War fighter, Nicephore Niepce's view from a Le Gras window, Robert Doisneau's The Kiss, and Henry Peach Robinson's Fading Away. There are also images from some of the most influential photography monographs, including The Pencil Of Nature (William Henry Fox Talbot), The Decisive Moment (Henri Cartier-Bresson), and Die Welt Ist Schon (Albert Renger-Patzsch).

The Dictionary's only serious rival is The Focal Encyclopedia Of Photography. Both works cover the art and technology of photography, though the Dictionary's emphasis is primarily on art while the Encyclopedia focuses more on technology. One of the advantages of the Encyclopedia is its extended bibliographic essay, though it contains very few photographic illustrations. The Dictionary includes 300 photographs, though it has no bibliography.

Other (lesser) photography reference books include The Photography Book, Photography Visionaries, 100 Ideas That Changed Photography, Photographers A-Z, and The Visual Dictionary Of Photography. The Thames & Hudson Dictionary Of Photography is one of a series of arts dictionaries published by Thames & Hudson, including dictionaries of Art Terms, Graphic Design & Designers, and Fashion & Fashion Designers.

Beaumont Newhall wrote the first history of photography as an art form, The History Of Photography, which was originally published as a MoMA exhibition catalogue. Helmut Gernsheim's The History Of Photography, dedicated to Newhall, discusses the early development of photography. Naomi Rosenblum's A World History Of Photography became the standard modern history of the subject. Mary Warner Marien's Photography: A Cultural History is the most recent, and most comprehensive, survey of photographic history.