Capturing shadows : on photography, causation, and absences


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Many photographs seem to be images of absences: for instance, a photograph of a shadow seems to be an image of an absence, as shadows are plausibly thought of as being absences of light. Absence photography is puzzling, however, as, first, it is a common idea that photographs can only be images of things that have caused them, and, second, it is unclear whether absences can cause anything. In this paper, I look at various ways to unravel the puzzle. Along the way, I also hope to cast some light on the idea that photography is a causal medium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-269
Number of pages14
JournalAustralasian Journal of Philosophy
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Ancestors of this paper were presented at The London Aesthetics Forum; at the universities of Uppsala, Glasgow, Stockholm, and Lingnan; and at the workshop ‘Philosophy and Photography’ in Ovronnaz.


  • absences
  • causation
  • photography
  • shadows


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