With newly commissioned essays by some of the leading writers on photography today, this companion tackles some of the most pressing questions about photography theory’s direction, relevance, and purpose.

This book shows how digital technologies and global dissemination have radically advanced the pluralism of photographic meaning and fundamentally transformed photography theory. Having assimilated the histories of semiotic analysis and post-structural theory, critiques of representation continue to move away from the notion of original and copy and towards materiality, process, and the interdisciplinary. The implications of what it means to ‘see’ an image is now understood to encompass, not only the optical, but the conceptual, ethical, and haptic experience of encountering an image. The 'fractal' is now used to theorize the new condition of photography as an algorithmic medium and leads us to reposition our relationship to photographs and lend nuances to what essentially underlies any photography theory — that is, the relationship of the image to the real world and how we conceive what that means.

Diverse in its scope and themes, The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory is an indispensable collection of essays and interviews for students, researchers, and teachers. The volume also features extensive images, including beautiful colour plates of key photographs.

chapter |18 pages


ByMark Durden, Jane Tormey

part Part I|1 pages


chapter 1|16 pages

Feeling in photography, the affective turn, and the history of emotions

ByThy Phu, Elspeth H. Brown, Andrea Noble

chapter 2|15 pages

Jacques Rancière

Aesthetics and photography
ByDavid Bate

chapter 3|17 pages

Ambiguity, accident, audience

Minor White’s photographic theory
ByTodd Cronan

chapter 4|16 pages

Testing humanism

The transactions of contemporary documentary photography 1
ByMark Durden

chapter 5|12 pages

Jeff Wall speaks with David Campany 1

ByJeff Wall, David Campany

chapter 6|16 pages

Deleuze and the simulacrum

Simulation and semblance in Public Order
BySandra Plummer

chapter 7|15 pages

Five versions of the photographic act

Archival logic in the work of Andrea Robbins and Max Becher
ByShep Steiner

part Part II|1 pages


chapter 10|19 pages

Seeing the public image anew

Photography exhibitions and civic spectatorship
ByRobert Hariman, John Louis Lucaites

chapter 11|12 pages

Still images on the move

Theoretical challenges and future possibilities
ByMarta Zarzycka

chapter 12|9 pages

Interview with Ariella Azoulay

ByAriella Azoulay, Justin Carville

chapter 13|14 pages

Human rights practice and visual violations

ByRuthie Ginsburg

chapter 14|17 pages

Love the bomb

Picturing nuclear explosion
ByPaula Rabinowitz

chapter 15|15 pages

Twice captured

The work of atrocity photography
ByMolly Rogers

chapter 16|17 pages

Presenting the unrepresentable

Confrontation and circumvention
ByJane Tormey

chapter 17|16 pages

The eco-anarchist potential of environmental photography

Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s Petrochemical America
ByConohar Scott

chapter 18|17 pages

Counter-forensics and photography 1

ByThomas Keenan

part Part III|1 pages


chapter 19|14 pages

Derrida and photography theory

ByMalcolm Barnard

chapter 20|14 pages

Image, affect, and autobiography

Roland Barthes’ photographic theory in light of his posthumous publications
ByKathrin Yacavone

chapter 21|14 pages

Ideation and photography

A critique of François Laruelle’s concept of abstraction 1
ByJohn Roberts

chapter 22|35 pages

Fractal photography and the politics of invisibility

ByDaniel Rubinstein

chapter 23|15 pages

Photographic apparatus in the era of tagshot culture

ByMika Elo

chapter 24|14 pages

Artistic representation and politics

An exchange between Victor Burgin and Hilde Van Gelder
ByVictor Burgin, Hilde Van Gelder

chapter 25|13 pages

Decentering the photographer

Authorship and digital photography
ByDaniel Palmer

chapter 26|12 pages

Out of language

Photographing as translating
ByNancy Ann Roth

chapter 27|16 pages

Habitual photography

Time, rhythm, and temporalization in contemporary personal photography
ByMartin Hand, Ashley Scarlett