Photography has a direct physical relationship, through chemical
processes that links it to reality, which presumably makes it free from
“The daguerreotype is not
merely an instrument which serves to draw nature, it gives her the power to
“Painting can feign reality without having seen it, contrary to
imitation in photography, I can never deny that the thing has been there."
PHOTOGRAPHY’S GENERAL ACCEPTANCE
Photographs have become tantamount to evidence, evidence which has the ability to
drastically alter the world. e.g - aerial photographs and the Cuban missile crisis
“Photography has redefined
societies understanding of information and truth ‘truth is in the seeing, not in
THE SUBJECTIVITY OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Some disagree, notably Susan Sontag.
Sontag believes that by applying immortality and importance to
certain subjects you are changing their significance and possible interpretation.
“The camera’s rendering of
reality must always hide more than it discloses” - Sontag
And in direct conflict with Barthes...
“[Photographs are] as much an
interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are.”
Not only does the photographer affect the photograph, but the process of being photograph photograph can even change the subject, because of their awareness of the
camera, and the process of posing, trying to reflect your inner self through
“The human subject becomes less
real through the process of being photographed…make another body for myself,
transform myself in advance into an image”
This self-awareness and attempt to ‘create an image in advance’
works on a larger level. There are attempts at controlling how photographs are perceived,
propaganda, photo-ops etc.
alters reality] whether through retouching, use of filters or lenses, selection
of the angle of photography, exposure time, use of specially prepared chemicals
in the developing stage, or adding elements through multiple printing.
Traditional photography, therefore, also possesses process that can attenuate,
ignore, or even undo the indexical”
Photography creates a partial frozen reality, from a particular
point of view. Even without retouching, photography can lie by omission.
Falling soldier – Robert Capa
More than likely posed, perspective, quality and nature of the
photograph are very suggestive - We see what we want our experience teaches us
Eddie Adams – Execution of a Viet Cong Prisoner of war.
Massively reproduced, Front page of the New York times –generated
The prisoner in the photograph had killed twelve people that
morning, including the family of the friend of the executioner.
Photograph (which became more potent than the television footage
of the same event) created turnaround in public support of the war… in a
country that largely supports the death
penalty for murder.
It was suggested that the general staged the photograph because
the AP were there, as a warning to other Viet Cong.
Kevin Carter – Sudanese Famine
Photograph caused international contrversy, the photographer won
the Pulizer prize, and took his own life shortly after.
The was taken at a UN food depot, the child’s mother was likely
nearby receiving food. The use of a telephoto lens, exaggerates the relationship
between the vulture and the child. Other
people present have said that Carter chased the bird away after the photo was
Post production – World Press Photo
Photographs of the Holocaust
The Holocaust – “this historic event marks the limits of representation”
Photographs taken by Nazi officials, to document construction and
medical experiments in the camp.
Nazi propaganda photographs – silenced worries about the brutality
of the camp.
Images taken by Allied soldiers upon discovery/after liberation – very
heroic, also used as propaganda, somewhat misrepresented the camps.
Photograph’s also taken by German soliders, visiting during
leisure time. ‘Tourist photographs’ – ‘light-hearted’ many of which were found
in wallets of dead German soldiers.
Photographs do not show the acts, buracracy, planning and
decisions behind the camps, just the incident.
Freeze framing makes it impossible for photographs to do justice
to the professional quality of history.
Despite this is signifies something. It’s abstraction lends itself
to becoming a symbol, and can lead to abstract emotive ideas.
IS THE UBIQUITY OF CAMERA
PHONES AND SOCIAL MEDIA MOVING US TOWARDS A FAIRER FORM OF PHOTOGRAPHY?
(Relating to the concentration camps)
“The photographs taken by amateur
photographers were often more convincing than pictures taken by professional photographers
on official commissions… in their amateurishness, the photographs seem to depict
directly the situation that the photographers had experienced. This their own pictures
seem to more truthful than the more composed pictures of professionals.”
In the hour following 9/11 attacks in New York surrounding gift-shops
were sold out of disposable cameras.
“A desire to make real what I could barely understand”
-E. Ann Kaplan
Photographs abstracts reality, in this case makes something
overwhelming, easier to grasp.
Leads to unbiased, less premeditated photographs, the volume of
them creates a variety of. The amateur nature of the photographer, combined with
the nature of disposable cameras/camera phones means that the photographer had
no control over zoom, aperture, film type, or development.
Does this lead to a more honest depiction of an event through
Social Media as an un-controlled, distribution channel.
Storyful – verification. Also this talks to Jules Spinatschs methods of remaining distance and attempting to 'photograph everything'
IS OVERSATURATING DAMAGING PHOTOGRAPHY’S
Some argue that truth in photography lies in studying subtleties -
subject poses, gestures, dress, relationships between people – a secret
language, this can transcend the intent of the photographer. Walker Evans -
Farm Security Administration.
Through familiarisation photographs can become devoid of
information, and become symbols, or motifs, rather than something worthy of
As this they may be capable of reinforcing knowledge that already