Object-oriented photography: a speculative essay on the photography of essence

Bob Ryan (Lead / Corresponding author), Alison Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we discuss the insights Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) offers in understanding the photographic process. Following Kant's distinction between noumena and phenomena and Heidegger's Geviert, Harman's OOO focuses on the real versus sensory aspects of all objects of experience. In our analysis, we explore its implications for intentionality, signification and revelation in photography. OOO locates being within all objects and stands in opposition to the post-Cartesian correlationism influential in the continental tradition. In Heidegger's terms, the still camera exhibits both presence and readiness at hand. However, this readiness at hand is so ubiquitous that it is easy to overlook what makes it unique amongst the tools at our disposal. We argue that in the field of visual experience, the camera does what Kant believed impossible. It has the potential to reduce epistemic loss and transform the phenomenology of conscious experience into the noumenology of non-conscious awareness of the real object.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-147
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophy of Photography
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2023


  • Derrida
  • Eidos
  • Emergence
  • Essence
  • Harman
  • Heidegger
  • Image
  • Intention
  • Meaning
  • Noumena
  • Ontology
  • Object-Oriented Ontology
  • Phenomena
  • Photography
  • Speculative Realism
  • Superposition

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