But photographic seeing has to be constantly renewed with new shocks, whether of subject matter or technique, so as to produce the impression of violating ordinary vision. For, challenged by the revelations of photographers, seeing tends to accommodate to photographs. The avant-garde vision of Strand in the twenties, of Weston in the late twenties and early thirties, was quickly assimilated. Their rigorous closeup studies of plants, shells, leaves, time-withered trees, kelp, driftwood, eroded rocks, pelicans’ wings, gnarled cypress roots, and gnarled workers’ hands have become clichés of a merely photographic way of seeing. What it once took a very intelligent eye to see, anyone can see now. Instructed by photographs, everyone is able to visualize that once purely literary conceit, the geography of the body: for example, photographing a pregnant woman so that her body looks like a hillock, a hillock so that it looks like the body of a pregnant woman.

On Photography by Susan Sontag

ISBN: 0385267061 This book is available from Amazon