Photography does more than simply represent the world. It acts in the world, connecting people to form relationships and shaping relationships to create communities. In this beautiful book, Margaret Olin explores photography’s ability to “touch” us through a series of essays that shed new light on photography’s role in the world.
Olin investigates the publication of photographs in mass media and literature, the hanging of exhibitions, the posting of photocopied photographs of lost loved ones in public spaces, and the intense photographic activity of tourists at their destinations. She moves from intimate relationships between viewers and photographs to interactions around larger communities, analyzing how photography affects the way people handle cataclysmic events like 9/11. Along the way, she shows us James VanDerZee's Harlem funeral portraits, dusts off Roland Barthe's family album, takes us into Walker Evans and James Agee's photo-text Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and logs onto online photo albums. With over one hundred illustrations, Touching Photographs is an insightful contribution to the theory of photography, visual studies, and art history.