Types of Photographs

Barrett's types of photographs from Chapter Four

Descriptive - Explanatory - Interpretive - Ethically Evaluative -
Aesthetically Evaluative - Theoretical

These categories and many of the examples given come from
Terry Barrett. Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Undertanding Images 1990, Mayfield Publishing Company, Mountain View, CA For more information and better explanations you can see the book in our library or purchase a copy through Amazon.com

A question for "Art for Children" college students: How could I teach elementary school children to use a camera in a way to that would make photographs related to one of these types without showing examples from these photos before the children do their work?

note: Some Internet links to images are included here.
These are generally not the same images published in the Barrett book.
Descriptive Photographs (Barrett's term)
Photos that make a record of something
Examples: portfolio slides, photographs of the moons surface, the cave paintings of Lascoux, medical X-rays, your photo i.d., security camera images

Explanatory Photographs (Barrett's term)
Photos that help us understand something that is hard to see without using a camera.
Examples include the scientific work of Eadweard Muybridge and Harold Edgerton.
Photos by Bill Owen and Mary Ellen Mark help use understand society and people.

Explanatory examples
Muybridge animations
Muybridge work and history

Explanatory Bill Owens
Explanatory Mary Ellen Mark
Indian Street Performers. India 1981 cat no 207X-001-001

Interpretive Photographs (Barrett's term)
Made, not taken
Directed and/or Manipulated
Jerry Uelsmann, Duane Michals, Anne Brigman, Gertrude Kasebier

Jerry Uelsmann Chairs 2001Interpretive

Anne Brigman
The Water-Nixie
1914 / ca. 1940, reworked from earlier negative gelatin silver glass interpositive

Gertrude Kasebier , (1852-1934)
Image has been identified as Agnes Rand Lee, and the "heritage" bitterly referred to is the sudden death of her daughter Peggy. [Anastasia Wilkes, Art in America, November 1992]

Ethically Evaluative Photographs (Barrett's term)
Ethically Evaluative
Photos that praise or condemn
Try to produce improvements in society
Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans (Farm Security Administration work),
Jacob Riis (labor & housing conditions),
W. Eugene and Aileen Smith (Minamata), Carrie Mae Weems and Gordon Parks (racial injustice)
W. Eugene Smith  Toimoko in Her Bath Minimata, Japan 1972     22" x 16" http://www.rit.edu/~arton/photographs/smith_toimoko.html

Jacob Riis Home of an Italian Ragpicker 1888

Carrie Mae Weems (racial injustice)
See No Evil, 1997 Color photograph 20 x 24 inches Edition/15

Susan Sontag “Looking at War: photography’s view of devastation and death.” The New Yorker. December 9, 2002.  pp. 82-98.
See this source in Library or purchase at newstands.

Aesthetically Evaluative Photographs (Barrett's term)
“. . beautiful things photographed in beautiful ways. . . nude . . . landscape . . . still life.” Barrett, pg. 64
Robert Maplethorpe, Irving Penn, Edward Weston, Imogene Cunningham, Ansel Adams, Minor White, Henri Cartier-Bresson , Gary Winogrand

Theoretical Photographs --Barrett, page 68 (1st edition)
Photography about photography
Cindy Sherman film stills, Joel-Peter Witken work about historical art, Sherrie Levine copies of Walker Evans & Edward Weston, Les Krims book Making Chicken Soup .

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #13. 1978. Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #3. 1977. Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York. http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/sherman/index.html
Theoretical Photography about photography

Sherrie Levine copies of Walker Evans

Joel-Peter Witken -  Cover photo for Love and Redemption
Photography about photography Theoretical

Also see Photo Judging Criteria
Link to:  A form for classmates to use when conducting a photo class critique by Marvin Bartel
Also see Types and Categories of Photographs
Link to:  What is a Strong Photographic Composition ?  by Marvin Bartel
Link to:  A form for classmates to use when conducting a photo class critique by Marvin Bartel
Link to:  A Rubric for artwork assignments
Link to:  A Rubric for learning in Art History
Link to: An Artwork Critique Form
Back to: Assignments page

All rights reserved.  This page is posted solely for purposes of review by students in the instructor's Art for Children class at Goshen College.  Questions? - e-mail Marvin Bartel
posted 12-11-02