Photographic Initiatives


Van Lier, Henri. Philosophy of Photography, Lieven Gevaert Series, 6, New ed. (Leuven: Univ. Press, 2007)

‘Part Two: Photographic Initiatives’


Up until photography’s arrival on the scene, human beings had a sense of mastery and creation in almost every domain. Both artisans and artists were responsible for their project just as much as for the means used in drawing, sculpting and writing.

If the painter’s canvas or the sculptor’s stone were replaced by the writer’s paper, nothing substantially changed in the triangle of model, creator and work. As for technology, it was a simple tool, a means in the service of human intentions, the latter alone being really respectable and originary.

The photograph radically changed this situation, that is to say, it changed the entire system of traditional culture. This is mainly due to the fact that the initiative of the photographer only takes place after other initiatives, namely those of the technician, of natural light, and of the spectacle with its structures and actors.

Indeed we have left behind anthropocentrism and humanism in favor of a more biological, universal, technical, semiotic and indicial perspective. In addition, our attempt at understanding all these incessant mutations has created a techno-logical, cosmo-logical, physio-logical, semio-logical and indicio-logical mindset.

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