One of the themes of Morris's book is a defense of photojournalism against the criticisms of Susan Sontag. At the core of the matter, according to Kaufman:
"For Morris, every picture tells a story because it is placed in a web of implication. The photojournalists he covers do not let their pictures drift. And because their subjects are social and political, their implications are both political and ethical. Morris sees these photographers’ identification with the urban poor as a secularized but nevertheless Jewish demand for justice. He can do this in part because the specific photographers he writes about do so. Despite what Sontag might claim, these guys do not have an interest in the status quo. They are interested — as secular Jews — in changing it.I've heard lectures about Jews in modern photography, but none of the content seemed to make any point about what they might have had in common or whether their Jewish identity was related to their artistic choices. The idea expressed here is that the 20th century Jewish interest in social justice is reflected in these Jewish photographers. Their choices of subject matter made a difference by highlighting social inequality. Kaufman writes of the photographers discussed in the work: "because their subjects are social and political, their implications are both political and ethical. Morris sees these photographers’ identification with the urban poor as a secularized but nevertheless Jewish demand for justice."
"The photographers whom Morris discusses demonstrate their Yiddishkeit in still another way. Morris argues in several places that their documentary impulse follows the biblical injunction to remember. These photographers are witnesses and recorders. In a very real and basic way, their photo essays serve as Yizkor books."