I just finished reading The Photographer's Eye by John Szarkowski (December 18, 1925 – July 7, 2007) . It is a name that should be known to every photographer. I say should because most do not know of him. The book is a must read for all photographers. It talks to the essential parts of every composed image: subject, detail, frame, time, and perspective. Each section is comprised of images detailing examples associated with each topic. It is evident what the emphasis is of each image and what it is trying to convey with regard to the section in which it is contained. Each main section of the book is introduced by Szarkowski in a very eloquent manner that clearly gives the reader an idea of what to expect and what to focus on. in 1962, he was picked by Edward Steichen to be Steichen's successor at the Museum of Modern Art. When he arrived in New York, not a single gallery in the city showed fine art photography. He wrote Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960. New York. MOMA (1978) describing photography which dichotomized two strategies of pictoral expression. The 'Mirror' strategy focuses on self-expressive photography and the 'Window' element in which photographers like Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, and Lee Friedlander leave their comfort zone to explore.
In 1973 Szarkowski published Looking at Photographs a practical set of examples on how to write about photographs. The book is still required reading for students of art photography, and argues for the importance of looking carefully and bringing to bear every bit of intelligence and understanding possessed by the viewer. Szarkowski has also published numerous books on individual photographers, including, with Maria Morris Hamburg, the definitive four-volume work on the photography of Atget.
He taught at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and New York University, and continued to lecture and teach. In 1990, U.S. News & World Report said: "Szarkowski's thinking, whether Americans know it or not, has become our thinking about photography".
In 1991 Szarkowski retired from his post at the New York Museum of Modern Art, during which he had developed a reputation for being somewhat autocratic, and became the Museum's Photography Director Emeritus. He was succeeded by Peter Galassi, the Chief Curator.