Book Review- Photography and Cinema- David Campany

When I first saw the book on the reading list, I was curious as to how it would relate to landscape photography. However, after reading David Campany’s essay “Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of Late photography”, I became more intrigued.

I found Campany’s writing style easy to comprehend and gave me lots of things to think about such as the way in which I view photography in films and how one cannot seem to work without the other.

Campany made a number of interesting points such as

  • Photography is the aftermath of culture- we see things ‘live’ first and then want to photograph it. For example, a parent watching their children playing and wanting to photograph it, in order to preserve it.
  • Photography was only recognised as stillness after cinema and moving images came about. Is this further evidence of the pigeon holing of photography? He later talks about photography’s constant battle to be seen as creative or stretch itself further because of its stillness.
  • How photographs are shown within films. I have always been aware of the importance of their presence but never really understood it until reading this book. Photographs always seem to be exaggerated or overstated and it has only now occurred to me that it is always particular types of photographs that are shown i.e. police, forensic, family albums. All of these show events that have passed, they are evidential of things that have happened such as a crime, a betrayal or some haunted past. Campany uses a number of films, some of which I have been inspired to watch after reading about them, which are easily accessible and comprehendible.

Throughout the book, I kept coming back to the idea of photography being the outsider of the art world, constantly battling to be relevant, creative or useful. There is so much potential within photography however there isn’t a particular genre or use for it, it is kind of like the child in the playground that is different and doesn’t fit in. I also get the sense that photography is a “Jack of all trades, master of none”, it spends so much time trying to be a part of everything like documentary, fine art, forensics that it has never found its real use or purpose.

Overall, I found David Campany’s book, thoroughly enjoyable and easy to understand. By looking at the examples he uses within the book, of both films and photographers, I found that I was able to visual and consolidate everything that I had read with ease.


About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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