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Rethinking photography

"Dorian Gray," Yinka Shonibare
"Revolt in the Soul and Body/A Way Going to an Insane City," Chen Chieh-Jen

“Revolt in the Soul and Body/A Way Going to an Insane City,” Chen Chieh-Jen

In their recently published book, “Reframing Photograph: Theory and Practice,” Rebekah Modrak and BIll Anthes offer a re-examination of photography that is both accessible yet complex.

Modrak is an associate professor at U-M’s School of Art & Design. Along with Anthes — an associate professor of art history at Pitzer College — Modrak explores photographic theory, history and technique to bring photographic education up to date with contemporary photographic practice. “Reframing Photography” is a broad and inclusive rethinking of photography that will inspire readers to think about the medium across time periods, across traditional themes, and through varied materials.

"Forkscrew Graphics," Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics

“Forkscrew Graphics,” Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics

“Reframing Photography” was published in the UK in mid November, and will be available in U.S. in early 2011.

The timely analysis looks at how artists experiment with photography, and investigates photographic practices in relation to a range of ideas and disciplines. Intended for both beginning and advanced students, for art and non-art majors, and for practicing artists, Reframing Photography compellingly represents four concerns common to all photographic practice: Vision, Light/Shadow, Reproductive Processes, and Editing/ Presentation/ Evaluation.

Each part includes an extensive essay that explores the connection between photography and culture. For example, the essay on reproduction provokes readers to  think more broadly and penetratingly about photography.

Each essay introduces the work of artists who use a diverse range of subject matter and a variety of processes (straight photography, social documentary, digital, mixed media, conceptual work, etc.), examine artists’ conceptual and technical choices, describe cultural implications and artistic influences, and analyze how these concerns interrelate.

Following each essay is a section dedicated to a how-to, ” ‘Tools, Materials, Processes’ section that describes a fascinating range of related photographic equipment, materials and methods through concise explanations and clear diagrams.


REBEKAH MODRAK (left) is a studio artist who has shown work at The Sculpture Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Kenyon College. She is Associate Professor in the School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan where she teaches courses such as “Perception”, “Photo Studio”, “Low-Tech Photographic Animation”, “Contemporary Trends in Photography”, “Shopdropping,” and “Artist as Entrepreneur”.

BILL ANTHES is Associate Professor of Art History at Pitzer College. He has received awards from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, the Center for the Arts in Society at Carnegie Mellon University, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Art Writers Grant Program.