In his last and uncommonly readable little book Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes said something subversive about photography. "In a photograph", he argued, "it is not the photograph that we see". Photographers were horrified, because he seemed to be saying that technique doesn't matter. It does, of course, but any criticism based solely on technique is sure to run into trouble. In the brief period when I talked about photography for the New York Review of Books, I tried to avoid all talk of technicalities. For one thing, I didn't know enough about them. For another, they were plainly at the service of whatever subject the photographer was trying to record. I took a certain amount of flak for favouring that approach but it paid off in the end, because there were no mentions of focal length or depth of field to go out of date when it turned out that the newer the camera, the bigger the brain it had than the human being holding onto it. This last statement does not apply to the photographers featured here, who are all intelligent and sensitive enough to know that the world comes first. The links lead to a sample of images from photographers discovered by my assistant Cécile Menon, who has a keen nose for off-trail image makers. But she had no trouble convincing me. The pictures did that all by themselves.
Photo "Pink Princess" by Laura Noble