Photography has been seen as a documentary tool, allowing for realisticdepictions of the world, and as a creative practice, now a central mediumwithin the fine arts. The interchange between these opposing views of themedium factual and imaginative, everyday life and 'high' culture hascreated a rich field of image production.
What about a "back door" approach to analyzing an image in case a photo ends up on the synthesis prompt? Tips for creating a photo essay by Megan Cieloha via Click it Up a Notch
In 1922, in a letter to the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, Marcel Duchampdeclared: 'You know exactly how I feel about photography. I would like to seeit make people despise painting until something else will make photographyunbearable.' Today the camera seems more firmly embedded in visual culturethan ever; every mundane event or passing sight instantly captured andshared in an age of 'smartphones' and social networking sites. The ubiquityof the photographic image has perhaps created an oppressive presence ineveryday life. The colonisation of every aspect of life by photography is not arecent development; however the invention of photography in the late 1830squickly led to a dramatic increase in the production and circulation of images.
I also thought that doing all this would help in regards to selling my work. I believed that I could change peoples mind and that once this was achieved they would buy my photographs. What I discovered was how many people have their minds made up and dont want to be bothered by the facts. I also discovered that people who do not believe what you say, or who do not like what you do, will not buy your work. After all, I am selling art. And to buy art, someone has to like the work and often like the artist as well. When people dont like one or the other, or worse dont like either, trying to make a sale is not just futile, it is delusional.
Roland Barthes pointed out that photography in its earliest years depictedremarkable things, but over time things became remarkable simply becausethey were photographed. The development of a medium that allowed fora quick and accurate reproduction of the world meant the creation, for thefirst time in history, of a visual record of all aspects of life. Photographs offera visual knowledge of the world outside direct experience. This knowledgeis abstracted and second-hand, but it nonetheless creates a strong sense ofrecognition. Visual representations became increasingly important in thedissemination of knowledge; the endless reproducibility of the photographmade it a central feature of modern, spectacular, consumer society.
Bringing a conclusion to this essay is difficult. On the one hand, there is a lot more to say on the subject. On the other hand, some may argue that such an essay should never be written. The first position is correct the second one is incorrect. There is a lot more to be said on this subject, and this essay does need to be written because finding the proper answer to these questions is very difficult. As I said at the beginning, if you are a photographer and you show your work to other people, regardless of whether you sell your work or not, you will be asked these questions. If you havent yet, you eventually will. It is only a matter of time. As the popular statement goes: it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.
One way in which the meaning of the photograph is fixed and madeclear is through the use of the caption. Walter Benjamin described thecaption as an imperative directive to photographic meaning that createdsignposts for the viewer. Another paired set of images, Incident, 1993 andBorder Incident, 1994, by the Irish artist Willie Doherty, demonstrates theway our understanding of photographs is informed by the context in whichthey are viewed and how language supplements the image in the form oftitle and/or caption. Both images are large, detailed, close-ups of burntoutcars abandoned in the landscape. The straight on camera angle in thephotographs adds to the sense that we are being presented with a factualdescription. Both works are given a political charge because of the use of thewords 'border' and 'incident' in the titles, immediately evoking the violenceof Northern Ireland's recent past and suggesting that we are looking at theaftermath of conflict. However, one of the two images depicts a car that hassimply been illegally dumped. Typically for Doherty's work the signpostsoffered by the titles misdirect rather than guide.
Technique, in other words, must be or become part of the work. It must not be just the path that lead to the creation of this artwork, it must be part of the artwork. To return to my main point in this essay, and to just saying when asked if my work is enhanced or manipulated, I must give this answer in order to tell my audience that it is my intention to make my technique visible. Indeed, I often emphasize my yes answer, by saying In writing, there is no other way to show this subtle difference besides placing an exclamation point after the yes, but in reality this slight change conveys my love and my passion for the work that I do and for my desire to share this with my audience.
Furthermore, I feel great about doing what I do. In fact, I love it and I have never been happier than since I gave myself the freedom of doing so! Not only that, but I write essays describing precisely not only how I do what I do, but teaching others how they can do it too. I even give workshops and seminars and conference presentations about both the techniques I use and the philosophical and rhetorical views that underline my position. And if there is anything else you would like to know about this subject that I have not covered yet, dont hesitate to ask. I may have overlooked something, and if so I will be glad to fix it right away.
In the early twentieth century, with the emergence of avant-gardegroups such as Dada, Soviet-Constructivism and Surrealism, there was aradical change in approaches to photography as art. These groups weredrawn to photography's modernity and, rather than relating it to painting,they sought a new aesthetic based on the operations of the camera. Avantgardephotography tended to employ a sharp focus and often depictedmodern subjects, such as Albert Renger-Patzsch's images of industrially producedcommodities or László Moholy-Nagy's images of the Eiffel Tower.
This is usually what is at stake when someone looks at my work and asks: Do you manipulate your colors? or Is this real? They question whether I claim to represent reality or not. If I say that I do, most likely we are going to have an argument because most likely they see reality differently than I do. Therefore, if they believe there is only one possible reality out there, one of us will be wrong. Two photographers, one reality equals a problem.