How to Read a Photograph

What makes a photo powerful? How do photographers construct their shots to convey an idea or to comment on the world around them? The clear, nontechnical explanations and lovingly curated photographic examples in How to Read a Photograph provide a vocabulary, a procedure, and a clear format for “reading” a photo, training the eye to see photographs, but also revealing how photographs have trained our eyes to see objects in the world.

Text and photographs by Carolyn Whitson, PhD

ISBN-13 : 978-1732044289 | 8.5” x 8.5” | 127 pages


How to Read a Photograph is a concise introduction to understanding what gives a photograph its power to move us and to make us think. The book guides the reader through basic elements of what constitutes a photograph and then presents a method of analysis to help viewers understand why a photo is compelling and how it conveys its message. How to Read a Photograph is ideal for students of photography, for art lovers, and for photographers in search of a brief guide to discussing and understanding photographs and photography.


Carolyn Whitson is professor of humanities at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has been studying and practicing photography for over thirty years. She is also the author and photographer of Understanding Medieval Last Judgment Art (ISBN-13: 978-1690654667).


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