Picking and Choosing

I have wanted to make a post on the “reality” captured with photography. A friend of mine recently landed a PJ (photojournalist) job, and we have been trading some emails on the subject. The main point of interest for me is in exploring the photographic/artic changes that this person has gone through over the past three years, as they seem just as drastic as my own. In our discussion, in reply to me saying that I would not have seen them ending up as a PJ, they said that among other things, that they like “real, pure moments”.

I too like some type of PJ and documentary work, with a fondness for conflict photography. I feel that I understand what my friend was meaning by saying “real, pure moments”, because I often talk about my Balkan, Iraq, and Border work as being “real”…. but I don’t think I would ever use the work pure.

The issue is this, no matter the type of photography, including PJ; you are seeing the reality that the photographer wants you to see. What is left out of the frame is just as important as what is captured in it. This selection, and the process of composition and other creative controls available to the photographer allow them to present to you their reality (or create one for you). It is true that the event captured by the camera, like my Iraq images are events and moments that were real, but what you feel that the image really is may not in fact be what is was.

By Jindrich Marco (1947) linked to from the Washington Post

This summer the National Gallery of Art housed the exhibition Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918 – 1945. One of my favorite images in the exhibition is show above. The image is called “Souvenir” and was made by Jindrich Marco in 1945. My notes on this image read:

– The deception of the photographers “reality”.

Remember when viewing imagery that you are seeing what the photographer, photo editor, art director etc wants you to see. All photographs are stories, at their most “pure”, only a moment plucked from a greater event.

Enough reading……it is time for you to go create your own reality!

** The Jindrich Marco image in this post is liked to from a Washington Post exhibition announcement dated June 10, 2007 **


~ by Phil Nesmith on September 27, 2007.

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