Photography Research Paper Example

Essay about Photography

731 Words3 Pages

The Test of Time: The Power of the Photograph

What is a photograph? The simplicity of taking a photograph leads many to ponder its artistic value. Yet, it is undeniable that there are some photos that cause an emotional reaction deeper than simply observing a recorded point in time. Surely, there are photographs that cause more reaction than some modern art pieces. There seems to be two types of photographs. The first classification is the ‘time capture’ photo – an image with the sole purpose of recording a particular event or point in time. The second nature of a photo carries a ‘deeper meaning,’ which has the ability to change the observer’s mood and cause a reaction. But what distinguishes these two varieties? There are a…show more content…

There is clearly an artistic value to this image – it is taken at the location of a massacre of over 200 members of the Great Sioux Nation. However, did Elliot Erwitt intend a ‘deeper meaning’ for this photograph? In an interview recorded on his official website, Erwitt declares, “If it turns out to be entertaining what I do, I’m very pleased. But it’s not conscious.” It seems that Erwitt claims to not possess artistic intent in his photographs. However, it is clear that he simply boasts an unconscious artistic eye. It is obvious that the photograph of this church on hallowed ground falls in the ‘deeper meaning’ category. The second Elliot Erwitt photo is taken from his official webpage. It too is captured in black and white. The photo, shown in Figure 2 was taken in France and depicts a man and child riding a bicycle down a road lined with trees. This seems to be a ‘time capture’ photo; this particular event can never be perfectly replicated again. Despite the category in which this photo clearly falls into, it is undoubtedly still art – the setting is too perfect to be unintentional. However, according to Erwitt in his interview, unintentional is exactly the correct word. Erwitt states, “I take pictures of anything that interests me as I walk around with my camera.” This means that many of his photos are taken on a whim; the right place at the right time. In this case it is the viewer who makes the distinction between

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Is Photography a Reflection of Reality or an Escape from It?

Photography, meaning “drawing with lights” in Greek, is an art as well science of capturing light and storing it on some medium. Photographs have been used for over a century now for capturing moments of mankind and things around him, although photography dates back to 4th century B.C. But since its use, arguments have fired up to know whether photography can reflect the truth, the reality or instead push us away from it. Photography is just another art where an artist puts his thoughts and imaginations on a canvas using his creativity. Hence photography may not show what the reality is, it shows how the photographer sees the world or he wants us to see the world.

Some people argue that photography involves mechanical processes that handle most of the work, so not much work is to be done by the photographer. Whatever is present in front of the lens is captured exactly onto the film and there is no scope for the image generated to show others than the reality presents at that moment. But what matters is how that photograph was taken. The lights, the colors, the angle of the photography and the frame captured create a story of their own. Photographer uses such aspects to create an interpretation of reality, how he sees it and not necessarily how it appeared to everybody else also present at that moment.

For instance, a photograph of a beautiful beach will not show the litter present behind the camera. One will admire the beauty of the beach but will never know the reality of the beach. This will instill a false belief about that beach into the mind of person who sees the photograph and he may never know the truth about it. Photographers not always want people to see the truth but see the beauty of their work. It may seem morally incorrect but it’s what they are supposed to do, take beautiful photographs and earn admiration for the same. But photographs, even used for recreational purpose can be misleading sometimes. Consider the image below. It takes a while to see the truth. It appears there is a convertible parked next to the van but in reality it’s just a car painted on the van and there is no convertible.

However, more serious issues arise when photographs are used to show reality events and are even sometimes used as evidence in court of law. After the invention of personal computers photographs can be easily manipulated even if there are already taken. Which in turn can be considered bending the truth or simply a lie. There have been many incidences in past where photographs have been faked or misinterpreted creating havoc situation. The best known example is the Reutersgate which involved digitally manipulated photographs taken by Adnan Hajj, freelance photographer who had worked for Reuters.

One of the photograph, captioned by Reuters as showing an Israeli F-16 fighter jet firing ground attack missiles during an air strike on Nabatiyeh, was digitally manipulated to show as if the F-16 firing missiles but actually deployed a single flare.

Many simpler attempts were also made by just giving false or misleading captions to otherwise real photographs that were taken at different time or place and used during the Lebanon war period. Consider the images below. First image was captioned “Journalists are shown by a Hizbollah guerrilla group the damage caused by Israeli attacks on a Hizbollah stronghold in southern Beirut, July 24 2006. (Adnan Hajj/Reuters).” But look at the next photo captioned as “A Lebanese woman looks at the sky as she walks past a building flattened during an overnight Israeli air raid on Beirut’s suburbs August 5, 2006. (Adnan Hajj/Reuters).” But a cursory glance shows that it’s the exact same destroyed buildings in both photos. If they were already destroyed on July 24, they couldn’t have been destroyed on August 5, especially since the damage is identical in both pictures. It’s quite obvious that photos of the same scene were re-released to make it appear as if Israeli bombing raids were continuously hitting Beirut, when in fact Reuters was just recycling the same damage over and over. Well it’s ironic how one image disproves another image.

This gets us thinking whether we should believe what we see or not. I think no, we should verify a photo before we jump to conclusions whenever it’s necessary and possible. Photographs can be a great source of entertainment and a form of art but when it comes to portray reality, it may not succeed all the time. Sometimes photographs can also create hyper reality which just exaggerates the reality and thus cannot be truth. Photography acts as a thin line between reality and fantasy. Shows what you want to see.

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