P H Emerson’s Naturalistic Photography is one of the classics of photographic literature. This newly-designed and typeset, 600-page edition includes the complete text of the definitive 1899 edition which includes additional essays by Emerson, among them the controversial Photography - Not Art. Written by "one of the most important book-makers amongst ninetheenth-century art photographers" it provides a unique insight into both photographic processes and photographic concerns during this formative period in the history of photography. Compared at the time to “dropping a bombshell at a tea party”, Naturalistic Photography marked the start of a crusade against academism in artistic photography and the beginning of the long transition into modernism.
Emerson has been called “the Martin Luther of photography” (John Szarkowski), and more recently “one of the most virulent polemicists in the history of photography” (Thomas Galifot, Musée d’Orsay). His fierce and trenchant writing is in sharp contrast to the gentle, atmospheric images of his pioneering photobooks such as Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads and what many regard as his masterpiece, Marsh Leaves (1895), "one of the most beautiful books about isolation and solitude, perhaps death, ever made" (Martin Parr & Gerry Badger, The Photobook: A History). Emerson’s texts are today recognised as ranking alongside those of John Berger, Roland Barthes and John Szarkowski, as the precursors to contemporary thinking on photography.