Quick Book Review: “New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography” by Grant Scott
The role of photography in the world today has gotten tougher to assess, given that everybody has a camera with them at all times. The author argues that photography should be reassessed, and be thought of as a visual “language”. To do this, we need to discard the pre-conceived notion that successful photography is defined by a single successful image or “good photograph”. Instead, the author emphasizes the importance of narrative and storytelling in creating a successful body of photographic work. The author covers a lot of controversial topics, such as whether a smartphone is really a camera, and who is actually entitled to call themselves a photographer. There is a lot of discussion in the photographic world about whether the democratization of photography through the ubiquity of cell phones is a good thing or a bad thing, and this is a central theme of this book. I was really intrigued by the ideas presented in the book, and I really wanted to like the book, but ultimately, I found it a bit tedious. I’m sure the author is a great teacher, and I assume he’s a very good photographer, but the writing is really bad, and the editing is horrible. Lots of typographical errors, commas where they shouldn’t be, a lack of commas where they should be, and many awkward run-on sentences that leave you totally bewildered. Points that can be made in one or two paragraphs end up taking pages and pages to explain. It’s not an easy, fun read. I appreciate the author’s openness to new ideas. He’s not a snob when it comes to analog vs digital, thankfully. I just wish the book was better written.