Seeing Through Photographs

by The Museum of Modern Art

Notes on the Coursera Course


…while you observe these three different prints of Ansel Adams’s Moonrise photograph made in 1941 in Hernandez, New Mexico, acquired by MoMA in 1943, 1953 and 1964, you can notice how the photographer’s perception of one scene changed over decades and how different all these three prints are from each other.. And that the negative is really a subject of interpretation for a photographer..

Video: Ansel Adams’s moon in Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico


“Putting aside for today the not very mysterious mysteries of craft, a photographer finally does nothing but stand in the right place, at the right time, and decide what should fall within and what outside the rectangle of the frame. That is what it comes down to.”

— John Szarkowksi, The Photographer’s Eye


People are so accustomed to making a direct parallel between photograph’s subject and its meaning. The thing that it depicts is rarely the same scale, the same dimensionality and colour as the photograph itself. And in those differences the real tension and interest lies.
All photographers make choices whether it’s how you frame something on Instagram, what kind of camera you use, what kind of print you make, how you share this picture.. All of those choices make every photograph different from what it is a photograph of and help you tease apart the differences and space between something in front of the camera and the ultimate production of the artist.

— Sarah Meister, MoMA


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