Photographic Phenomenology as Cognitive Phenomenology

Cavedon-Taylor, Dan (2015). Photographic Phenomenology as Cognitive Phenomenology. The British Journal of Aesthetics, 55(1) pp. 71–89.



Photographic pictorial experience is thought to have a peculiar phenomenology to it, one that fails to accompany the pictorial experiences one has before so-called ‘hand-made’ pictures. I present a theory that explains this in terms of a common factor shared by beliefs formed on the basis of photographic pictorial experience and beliefs formed on the basis of ordinary, face-to-face, perceptual experience: the having of a psychologically immediate, non-inferential etiology. This theory claims that photographic phenomenology has less to do with photographs themselves, or the pictorial experiences they elicit, and is a matter of our cognitive response to those experiences. I illustrate this theory’s benefits: it is neutral on the nature of photography and our folk-conception of photography; it is consistent with photographic phenomenology’s being contingent; and it accounts for our experiences of hyper-realistic hand-made pictures. Extant theories of photographic phenomenology falter on one or more of these issues.

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