On Photography Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
On Photography On Photography by Susan Sontag
20,808 ratings, 3.84 average rating, 402 reviews
Open Preview
On Photography Quotes (showing 1-30 of 54)
“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder - a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality...One can't possess reality, one can possess images--one can't possess the present but one can possess the past.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“to take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality, vulnerability, mutability. precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world 'picturesque.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“To suffer is one thing; another thing is living with the photographed images of suffering, which does not necessarily strengthen conscience and the ability to be compassionate. It can also corrupt them. Once one has seen such images, one has started down the road of seeing more - and more. Images transfix. Images anesthetize.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Life is not about significant details, illuminated a flash, fixed forever.

Photographs are.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Desire has no history...”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Most of Arbus's work lies within the Warhol aesthetic, that is, defines itself in relation to the twin poles of boringness and freakishness; but it doesn't have the Warhol style. Arbus had neither Warhol's narcissism and genius for publicity nor the self-protective blandness with which he insulates himself from the freaky nor his sentimentality. It is unlikey that Warhol, who comes from a working-class family, ever felt any ambivalence toward success which afflicted the children of the Jewish upper middle classes in the 1960s. To someone raised as a Catholic, like Warhol (and virtually everyone in his gang), a fascination with evil comes much more genuinely than it does to someone from a Jewish background. Compared with Warhol, Arbus seems strikingly vulnerable, innocent--and certainly more pessimistic. Her Dantesque vision of the city (and the suburbs) has no reserves of irony. Although much of Arbus's material is the same as that depicted in, say, Warhol's Chelsea Girls (1966)...For Arbus, both freaks and Middle America were equally exotic: a boy marching in a pro-war parade and a Levittown housewife were as alien as a dwarf or a transvestite; lower-middle-class suburbia was as remote as Times Square, lunatic asylums, and gay bars. Arbus's work expressed her turn against what was public (as she experienced it), conventional, safe, reassuring--and boring--in favor of what was private, hidden, ugly, dangerous, and fascinating. These contrasts, now, seem almost quaint. What is safe no long monopolizes public imagery. The freakish is no longer a private zone, difficult of access. People who are bizarre, in sexual disgrace, emotionally vacant are seen daily on the newsstands, on TV, in the subways. Hobbesian man roams the streets, quite visible, with glitter in his hair.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“But the very question of whether photography is or is not an art is essentially a misleading one. Although photography generates works that can be called art --it requires subjectivity, it can lie, it gives aesthetic pleasure-- photography is not, to begin with, an art form at all. Like language, it is a medium in which works of art (among other things) are made. Out of language, one can make scientific discourse, bureaucratic memoranda, love letters, grocery lists, and Balzac's Paris. Out of photography, one can make passport pictures, weather photographs, pornographic pictures, X-rays, wedding pictures, and Atget's Paris. Photography is not an art like, say, painting and poetry. Although the activities of some photographers conform to the traditional notion of a fine art, the activity of exceptionally talented individuals producing discrete objects that have value in themselves, form the beginning photography has also lent itself to that notion of art which says that art is obsolete. The power of photography --and its centrality in present aesthetic concerns-- is that it confirms both ideas of art. But the way in which photography renders art obsolete is, in the long run, stronger.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. Like a wood fire in a room, photographs—especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past—are incitements to reverie. The sense of the unattainable that can be evoked by photographs feeds directly into the erotic
feelings of those for whom desirability is enhanced by distance.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“The photographer is now charging real beasts, beleaguered and too rare to kill. Guns have metamorphosed into cameras in this earnest comedy, the ecology safari, because nature has ceased to be what it always had been - what people needed protection from. Now nature - tamed, endangered, mortal - needs to be protected from people. When we are afraid, we shoot. But when we are nostalgic, we take pictures.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Despite the illusion of giving understanding, what seeing through photographs really invites is an acquisitive relation to the world that nourishes aesthetic awareness and promotes emotional detachment.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Photographs shock insofar as they show something novel.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“A capitalist society requires a culture based on images. It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anesthetise the injuries of class, race, and sex. And it needs to gather unlimited amounts of information, the better to exploit natural resources, increase productivity, keep order, make war, give jobs to bureaucrats. The camera's twin capacities, to subjectivise reality and to objectify it, ideally serve these needs as strengthen them. Cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the workings of an advanced industrial society: as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers). The production of images also furnishes a ruling ideology. Social change is replaced by a change in images. The freedom to consume a plurality of images and goods is equated with freedom itself. The narrowing of free political choice to free economic consumption requires the unlimited production and consumption of images.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“To collect photographs is to collect the world.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Algo feo o grotesco puede ser conmovedor porque la atención del fotógrafo lo ha dignificado. Algo bello puede ser objeto de sentimientos tristes porque ha envejecido o decaído o ya no existe. Todas las fotografías son memento morí. Hacer una fotografía es participar de la mortalidad, vulnerabilidad, mutabilidad de otra persona o cosa. Precisamente porque seccionan un momento y lo congelan, todas las fotografías atestiguan la despiadada disolución del tiempo.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“La necesidad de confirmar la realidad y dilatar la experiencia mediante fotografías es un consumismo estético al que hoy todos son adictos. Las sociedades industriales transforman a sus ciudadanos en yonquis a las imágenes; es la forma más irresistible de contaminación mental.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it—by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir. Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“To photograph people is to violate them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Recientemente la fotografía se ha transformado en una diversión casi tan cultivada como el sexo y el baile, lo cual significa que la fotografía, como toda forma artística de masas, no es cultivada como tal por la mayoría. Es sobre todo un rito social, una protección contra la ansiedad y un instrumento de poder.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Una fotografía es a la vez una pseudopresencia y un signo de ausencia.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“El vasto catálogo fotográfico de la miseria y la injusticia en el mundo entero le ha dado a cada cual determinada familiaridad con lo atroz, volviendo más ordinario lo horrible, haciéndolo familiar.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Fotografiar es apropiarse de lo fotografiado. Significa establecer con el mundo una relación determinada que parece conocimiento, y por lo tanto poder.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“El tiempo termina por elevar casi todas las fotografías, aun las más inexpertas, a la altura del arte.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“و یکی از تقالاهای عکاسان پرتره، که به لحاظ حرفه‌ای در برابر پرتره‌های آرمانی آدم‌های مشهور حالتی پذیرا و حامیانه دارند، جستجو برای یافتن چهره‌های واقعی است، چیزی که عموما در چهره آدمهای گمنام، فقرا، آدم‌های مطرود، سالخورده‌ها، و دیوانه‌ها می‌توان جستجو کرد - آنهایی که نسبت به تجاوز دوربین بی‌اعتنا هستند (یا قدرتی برای اعتراض ندارند.)”
نگین شیدوش, On Photography
“No sería erróneo hablar de una compulsión a fotografiar: a transformar la experiencia misma en una manera de ver.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“El más lógico de los estetas del siglo XIX, Mallarmé, afirmó que en el mundo todo existe para culminar en un libro. Hoy todo existe para culminar en una fotografía.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography
“Fotografiar es conferir importancia. Quizás no haya tema que no pueda ser embellecido; es más, no hay modo de suprimir la tendencia intrínseca de toda fotografía a dar valor a sus temas.”
Susan Sontag, On Photography

« previous 1

All Quotes
Quotes By Susan Sontag
Play The 'Guess That Quote' Game