Fotograf Magazine

Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

Chapter 1: What is Photography?

The Ontological Question


The most frequent response to the above question — What is photography? —is latent in the etymology of its name and recurs from the very inception of photography until the present, or at least until the advent of digital photography. In this etymology, photography is a “notation in light.” Writing in light is what transpires when the camera shutter opens and light rays, reflected off that which stands in front of the camera, penetrate the lens and are inscribed upon a certain surface.1

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