The Social Photo

The Social Photo:On Photography and Social Media

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A set of bold theoretical reflections on how the social photo has remade our world.

With the rise of the smart phone and social media, cameras have become ubiquitous, infiltrating nearly every aspect of social life. The glowing camera screen is the lens by which many of us apprehend and communicate our experience. But our thinking about photography has been slow to catch-up; this major fixture of everyday life is still often treated in the terms of art or journalism.

In The Social Photo, social theorist Nathan Jurgenson develops bold new ways of understanding the transformations wrought by these image-making and sharing technologies and the cultural objects they have ushered in: the selfie, the faux-vintage photo, the self-destructing image, the food photo. Jurgenson shows hows these devices and platforms have remade the world and our understanding of ourselves within it.

Reviews

  • Social photos are not primarily about making media but about sharing eyes,' Nathan Jurgenson writes in this important and timely book. Grappling with the significance of the billions of largely ephemeral images that inhabit social media, he persuasively delineates many of the key boundaries between what was previously understood to be photography and the contemporary image environment.

    Fred Ritchin, author of Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen
  • Like Susan Sontag’s On Photography to which it self-consciously responds, The Social Photo is slim, hard-bitten and picture-free. For if the average photo is ever dumber, photography matters even more; the social photo, in Mr. Jurgenson's phrase, has effected a "fusion of media and bodies" that has made every gallerygoer a cyborg.

    Jason FaragoNew York Times (Top Art Books of 2019)
  • Jurgenson is a good guide to our times

    TLS