Theoretical expressions are derived for the quantum yield and for the energy distribution of photoelectrons assuming bulk photoemission from a solid. The effects of electrons which escape without inelastic scattering after optical excitation, and of those electrons which escape after one inelastic-scattering event, are considered. The expressions relate optical transition probabilities, optical constants, and mean free paths for inelastic scattering in a solid to quantities which can be measured in photoemission experiments. Examples of photoemission data are interpreted to show how the contribution of once-scattered electrons can be separated from the contribution of those electrons which have not suffered an inelastic-scattering event before escaping. The contribution to photoemission of those electrons which have not been scattered is analyzed to show the way in which direct and nondirect optical transitions can be identified and the way in which the density of states in a solid can be determined. The contribution of once-scattered electrons to photoemission is analyzed to show the way in which the nature and strength of inelastic-scattering mechanisms can be determined. The effects of electron-electron scattering, scattering by plasmon creation, and the Auger process are described, and methods of obtaining mean free paths and other scattering parameters are suggested.