Concerning Photography: Some Thoughts About Reading Photographs

Tue 05 Jul 1977 - Fri 26 Aug 1977

Optic Parable. © Manuel Alvarez-Bravo, 1931

Concerning Photography: Some Thoughts About Reading Photographs

Tue 05 Jul 1977 - Fri 26 Aug 1977

This event is part of our Past Programme

06 Jul - 27 Aug 1977


Featuring Berenice Abbott, Robert Adams, Manuel Alvarez-Bravo, Lewis Ambler, Eugène Atget, Gerry Badger, Lewis Baltz, Kurt Benning, Ian Berry, Margaret Bourke-White, Bill Brandt, Brassai, René Burri, Harry Callahan, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alvin Langdon-Coburn, Keith Collie, Colin Curwood, Bruce Davidson, Bernard Deschamps, Robert Doisneau, Mark Edwards, Elliott Erwitt, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Ralph Gibson, Conrad Hafenrichter, Charles Harbutt, Lewis Hine, Kenneth Josephson, Kevin Keegan, Andre Kertész, Chris Killip, William Klein, Josef Koudelka, Clarence John Laughlin, Danny Lyon, Nathan Lyons, Duane Michals, Lisette Model, Raymond Moore, Nick Nixon, Paul Outerbridge Jr, Tony Ray-Jones, Marc Riboud, Guy Ryecart, Ben Shahn, Art Sinsabaugh, Aaron Siskind, I. Russell Sorgi, Chris Steele-Perkins, Ralph Steiner, Otto Steinert, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Josef Sudek, Paddy Summerfield, Homer Sykes, George A. Tice, Paul Trevor, Ira W. Martin, David Watt, Jack Welpott, Garry Winogrand & Bill Zulpo-Dane.


This exhibition has two main purposes, the first is to describe some of the lines along which photography has travelled during the last seventy years and the second is to make a commitment by the gallery to a number of the photographers and photographs that we believe have been particularly innovative and influential along the way. Clearly, it would be impossible tocover all the areas of photography and it was decided to use The Urban Landscape as a base from which to make the specific points about photography that we wish to illustrate. This gives the exhibition as a whole a cohesion, but it must be remembered that many of the particular things said about light, time and composition could equally apply to landscape, portraiture or any other form of creative photography.

To attempt an exhibition about photography, to show that it has its own aesthetics and basic requirements is a formidable task and I would particularly like to thank Jonathan Bayer, who has undertaken the bulk of the research and made all the final decisions as to which pictures should be included, as well as writing the introduction to each section. We would also like to thank the photographers, most of whom have not been shown in mixed exhibitions for many years. They have allowed us to select from their work those pictures we felt made our points most clearly, rather than ones they may themselves have preferred and have generally shown a trust in our judgement for which we are truly grateful.

To augment the exhibition itself we asked three writers to contribute essays to the catalogue. These are not specifically concerned with this exhibition although they refer to it. The idea was to show some of the ways in which people deeply involved with photography look at and enjoy photographs.

We are grateful to Pete Turner, Ian Jeffrey and Ainslie Ellis for undertaking this assignment and also to Bryn Campbell who has edited all the writing at very short notice with his usual concern, commitment and good humour. Also Heather Forbes who helped with the initial planning and research. We hope that the exhibition and the catalogue will help people enjoy and appreciate photography more than they may do already.

We hope it may help explain something of what is happening in the medium today and why; and show what various photographers have reacted against and towards to make photography the exciting living means of expression that it most certainly is. We know that these images are 'good photographs' and we ask only that they be looked at with fresh eyes and in relation to those around them even when some of them may be familiar to you. In short our aim is to broaden the understanding of photography in the most enjoyable way possible.

Written by Sue Davies The Photographers' Gallery, 1977


Curated by Jonathan Bayer

For further information on this and past exhibitions, visit our Archive and Study Room.