The Pleasures of Good Photographs.
By Gerry Badger.
Aperture, 2010. 256 pp., 17 color and 18 black & white illustrations, 6x8½".
Now in its second printing.
“If looking at photographs is a pleasurable
activity, it is pleasurable in a complex, transformative,
frequently unsettling sense. It is not
pleasure unalloyed, for no profound pleasure is
pure . . . Like many truly enriching pleasures . . .
photography has its dark, troubling, even dangerous
The Pleasures of Good Photographs is an intellectual
and aesthetic excursion led by Gerry
Badger, one of the field’s eminent critics and
popular writers and the author of more than a
dozen books including both volumes of The
Photobook: A History. In this new volume of
essays, Badger offers insight into some of his
favorite images, artists and themes, drawing
upon nearly three decades of experience writing
and thinking about photography.With deep discernment
and a readable blend of scholarly
finesse and wit, Badger elucidates works by
dozens of photographers, from Dorothea Lange
and Eugène Atget to Martin Parr, Luc Delahaye,
Susan Lipper and Paul Graham. Among the
broader topics discussed are the photobook,
where Badger believes “photography sings its
loudest and most complex song,” and
Photoshop’s role in art-making. An interlude at
the heart of the book pairs the author’s evocative
meditations with nearly a dozen particular
images. Alongside some of Badger’s classics, The
Pleasures of Good Photographs showcases primarily
new essays,making it an important addition
to the canon of photographic writing.