Understanding a Photograph by John Berger

John Berger’s explorations of the relationships between the individual and society, culture and politics, and experience and expression through the written word, films, photographic collaborations, and performances are unmatched in their diversity, ambition, and reach. His television series and book Ways of Seeing revolutionized the way that art is understood.

Understanding a Photograph, a collection of writings on photography by one of the most internationally influential writers of the past fifty years, is arranged chronologically, leading the reader on a thought-provoking journey through selected essays from hallmark works such as About Looking and Another Way of Telling, as well as previously uncollected pieces written for exhibitions or catalogues, that discuss a wide range of artists — from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Jitka Hanzlová. This collection of nearly twenty-five pieces has been carefully selected by novelist and essayist Geoff Dyer, who also wrote a critical study of Berger’s oeuvre.

“This new selection of more than 20 essays, edited by Geoff Dyer and including previously uncollected pieces, is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the power of this ubiquitous medium. Spanning some 40 years, they include pieces on the 1967 photograph of Che Guevara’s corpse, on the meaning of photographs…on the shock effect of war images… There are also typically insightful pieces on Paul Strand, W. Eugene Smith, André Kertész and Henri Cartier-Bresson… As ever with Berger’s writing, the theoretical is always informed by politics and a deeply felt humanity.” The Guardian

First published: London, Penguin, 2013; New York, Aperture, 2013