Robert AdamsWhy People Photograph

Why People Photograph is a book by a professional photographer about the relationship of art and life…

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Why People Photograph is a book by a professional photographer about the relationship of art and life. In 1981 Robert Adams published a volume of essays entitled Beauty in Photography, in which he suggested that art is too important to confuse with interior decoration or an investment opportunity. Its real use, he contended, is to affirm meaning and thus “to keep intact an affection for life.”

Why People Photograph gathers a selection of Adams’s writing since then. His subjects vary, but again he questions accepted prejudice, this time not only the view that art is trivial but that artists are separate. He demonstrates that many understand themselves to be bound to the world by complex and important obligations. Adams’s writing is free of academic jargon. Readers will also appreciate his attention to common experience (he talks about trying to earn an income), his enjoyment of the unorthodox (one essay concerns dogs and photography), and above all his conviction that art matters. Photographers “may or may not make a living by photography,” he writes, “but they are alive by it.”