Thursday, June 25, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Do photographers tell the truth?
The answer to this question will be “Yes” and “No”. I agree with Howard Becker when he says that “… pictures represent a small and highly selected sample of the real world” (p.14). If you ask journalists the same question “Do journalists tell the truth?” The answer will be exactly the same. Photography can’t tell the whole truth like journalism. Philosophically, there is the truth is out there. But nobody never ever find it. In seeking for the truth, journalists as well as photographers find and tell some truth. In other words, we can not find absolute truth, but we can find relative truth.
A way to tell some truth is to shape or frame events, actions and subjects. The dangerous thing on the way for seeking the truth is that everyone has his/her own truth to tell. In many cases, one person’s truth can be opposite to another’s. It makes journalist’s work more difficult at the same time interesting. From many people’s truth a journalist selects some of them to represent keeping a balance in reporting.
I think, a way photographer tells the truth is more believable because people trust more when they see. Even though a photographer allows people see the world from his/her angle and perspective, a photo is more valid for readers than a verbal text. That is why print media attach photos to the most important verbal text to make assertions. As Becker explains images have broad meaning and answer to specific questions.
A vivid example how to tell truth in certain way is photos of James Nastwey in Time magazine. He took very strong pictures which were used as an ad about the story on the cover page and as assertion of events described in the written text.
Concerning problems related to access, I have one more thing to add. A photographer takes a heavy suitcase with camera and lenses all the time. It means he/she will spend double time for security check on borders or official houses. In Missouri, there is a special rule for cameras in court room. For the purpose not to interrupt court’s proceeding, it is allowed to be only one TV camera or one still camera in a court room. Meantime, as many as print journalists can attend court process without getting any permission.
What are scary pictures! I could not go through the end of album at first. When I was a child I could not see films about war. If shootings started and somebody died screaming or something like that going on the screen, I put my hands on the ears and hided under the table. My sisters and brothers called me when those scary things were gone. I had such feeling when I started to list the album “Inferno” by James Nachtwey.
Second time, I read introductions to chapters which gave me more explanations and I finished to look at pictures. The photographer was a witness. He brought many pieces of truth to other people. As Mongolian proverb says “The truth is bitter.” But the images in this album more bitter. Clearly, that is why the album has a name like Inferno.
He took these pictures because he was an anti-war photographer. I agree with the following statement: “The anti-war photographer’s job is to see on behalf of the rest of the world; to substitute individual cases for statistics and to counter ideological justifications with individual costs; to enumerate the human features of the dead; to make suffering palpable so that people far removed can not overlook or excuse it; to repeat all these things again and again in the face of the human propensity for shutting out bad news especially when it does not represent an immediate personal threat; to act as a vessel for those who can not get the attention of the world because they have no voice left; if they ever had one; to appeal, to alert, to upset, to cry out (p.9)”
Photography is all about an action. Everything happens at one moment. A photographer captures that action by clicking a button of a camera. Such decisive moment comes to a news photographer once. He/she should decide quickly whether or not to take this picture. Often times photographers do not hesitate to take pictures if they can smell news. They can’t go from source to source as news writers to verify information before and after that action took place. They can’t organize everything like art photographers. It is a really big opportunity to take pictures of that dramatic action. Most photographers use this chance if they are really dedicated to their profession. But such kind of dedication have brought many debates in a society.
Debates were based on various understanding of photography and news values. Goldberg talks about action photos giving background information for each one. She emphasizes how powerful photography is. In contrast, Lesley Wishmann talks how unethical photography is. However, both of them talk about using the photography to do propaganda. People from different countries with different culture can use the same photography for different purpose like Americans used them in anti war movement or Romanians used in anti government protest.
Photographers can’t predict whether that particular photo will be used for propaganda. Primarily, they take pictures to inform people. Even sometimes they can’t predict if those photos will be published. All public debates and interpretations start after publishing photographs or using them frequently. The most of criticism comes from victims and their relatives because there is a privacy issue. But can a photographer think about a privacy of everybody when he faces an action. If he starts to think about it, he/she misses that action. But a photographer can do some accuracy checking after capturing that action by staying at scene for a while and asking people as a news reporter. I believe that most photographers do that because Lesley Wishmann talks about not wrong caption or accuracy of a photographer. I think a photographer should give more interpretation to his/her pictures instead of a short caption before other people start to interpret his/her photos in their own ways and use them.
Based on readings for this class I would like to share some thoughts and experience related to photographing in my life. First of all I agree with Susan Sintag that primarily function of the photography is to give information. It does not matter if it is a family or fine art photo; all kinds of photography inform us about something. I think, the most informational photo is a newspaper photo. As Sontag emphasized photographing is still ideology (p.19). A photographer decides how to show that event from bright side and dark side. I remember, in the mid of 1980-s when I started to work for the newspaper in Mongolia we were told by the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Party that we would not show dark pictures about Russia. Even our photographer was constructed to brush the spots on the head of Mikhail Gorbachev when his photo would run. It was too ideological.
Another point I would like to emphasize is naturalism of the photo. Bill Jay explained about it very precisely. “The naturalistic photograph states what (p.649) is.” But sometimes I feel newspaper photos about disasters are too much naturalistic. It is like naturalist literature which gives all details of life of heroes or situation described there. Last week even I saw a picture of earthquake in
Power of photography is related also to its humanism, I think. As Bill Jay pointed, such kind of picture states what could or should be (p.649). Specially, a newspaper photographer always has value judgements which are essential to humanism. Recently I participated in the study by a doctoral student Renita Coleman on how journalists do ethical decisions. She picked up very touchable photos with strong emphasis of humanism in each. I thought, the photographers of those pictures did decision at least twice from being human. They might first thought take or not to take the pictures. Then there was a dilemma: publish or not.
According to Barbara Rosenblum, the sociological study of style can contribute a lot to people’s understanding of material culture and its relationship to social processes (p.436). She tried to sketch out some possibilities for sociological approach to the analysis of styles. I agree with her implication that the greater the rationalization of the work process, the bigger homogeneous the style and less its capacity to absorb variation. To imply that, she described three kinds of photographers based on field observation: news, advertising and fine art photographers.
Styles of photographers differ from each other depending what kind of job they do. It is because of different technology, clients and gatekeepers for certain work. I think, photographers always change their style when they change their work. I can take one clear example. Jose Azel, the president of Aurora & Quanta Productions started his career in the Miami Herald as an assistant of a photographer. “Getting started, newspaper is a great thing”, he said at the meeting with students of the Missouri School of Journalism. He gained basic experience of photographer while he was working in this newspaper. His style of work the same as described Barbara Rosenblum in her study report. Then he published his photos in 17 magazines where he could initiate own stories and take assignments from editors as well. He did 10 stories for the National Geographic magazine. More than seven years ago, he became a co-founder of Aurora & Quanta Productions that specializes in photography and digital technology.
In Jose Azel’s case, several factors influenced changing many times his job and style as well. As a newspaper reporter he took picture and wrote stories. While he became experienced one, he was seeking greater control over his work than the mass media allowed. (That is Weinberg’s point. Schwartz, p.25). So he joined magazines. He liked his work in a field for 6-12 months and budgetary assignments from the National Geographic. But this kind of freedom can finish one day. He told the students that they should be critical about their work. He advised them also be ready to hear from editors “We have no assignments for you. We know you are great.” Those words mean, it is a time for you to find another way of security. It tells us that photographer’s work and style very much depend on gatekeepers.
After he left the National Geographic, he freelanced. But, here came another problem. Freelancer expenses rose every year. Magazines did not take every pictures he took saying they were too American or some other reasons. And he tried to explore an experimental way to new media. He thinks the Internet is using communication channels to deliver, but not new media. However, it’s more profitable since basic level of photographers work is to maximize their income. They can get $50 for one photo for the Internet. So, technology and financial concern changed his style last time.
According to Jose Azel, one thing connects all styles of photographers. Photographers emotionalize things people do not see.
As Goldberg emphasized, photography offered people to own images of their heroes (p.103). Those heroes vary from people to people, from culture to culture and from generation to generation. I remember, in the middle of 70s, the Beatles was hero for many young people in Mongolia. But since the country was socialist country, it was not allowed to listen to or talk about the Beatles. If they were caught doing so people accused them as people having influences from capitalist ideology and recommended special training to enlighten those young people. Although there were strong restrictions not to import capitalist music or art products, some singers or students studied abroad brought magazines and records of the Beatles. Images and records of the Beatles were distributed secretly from hand to hand. Some people sold images or rented records but most people gave them for nothing. Only concern was to keep everything in secret from adults. Young people including my brother were hiding images of the Beatles’ band somewhere. Inspired by listening the Beatles, almost every teenagers wanted to learn a guitar. In the evenings, a group of young people gathered together to learn to play a guitar at the entrance of our apartment. Then Mongolian bands were established and young people started to own their images without any fair.
Now everything is opposite in Mongolia. Everybody can keep images of everybody whoever he/she likes. Tabloid newspapers mushroomed after 1990 are benefiting a lot to make people celebrities. There are many debates are going on whether particular newspapers were suppose to publish those photographs or not, is that ethical to publish pictures from family album etc. Some people use the media to become famous posing in front of the camera or inviting reporters everywhere they go. This moment in Mongolian journalism reminds me journalism in the nineteenth century in America.
From this reading, I found interesting things related to Alexandre Duma and Charles Dickens. Alexandre Duma’s books are very popular in my country. We learned about him a lot but I never saw his images until to read Goldberg’s book. Charles Dickens and George Sand’s book are familiar to Mongolian readers but we did not know anything how they related to Photography. In this sense, I got new knowledge as from previous readings.
People use photography for many purposes: to keep as an evidence of their life (family album), to study historical or cultural aspects (research papers and books), and to document something important to others (media). In his book Wisconsin Death Trip, Dr. Michael Lesy used photos from the last century to reveal historical aspects of certain place. In other words, he wanted to reveal “psychology or personality of events” in the
As several graduate students participated in study pointed out this is not historical approach. It’s just one way of telling. Historical approach should be in context of many things. I think, Michael Lesy was a pessimist by that time. On the other hand, he could have being affected by some readings of historical book or newspaper of that time and got an idea to create such kind of book. He only used those photos to interpret some bad events occurred in the area and covered time to time in the newspapers. As journalists, we know what is value of the news. Most journalists define that bad news is news. Apparently, newspapers from the end of last century also did consider mostly bad news to be covered. This might be influenced the researcher to make his biased study and he used those photos as a supplement of interpretation of bad news from the newspapers.
One thing is fascinated me during the study in this country is that everything has being studied somehow, even tourist photography. I never thought about tourist photography as a subject to study even though I enjoy them very much.
I thought, a person going to another place picks up a camera to take pictures just to show that he/she has been to there. After reading this article, I think, the habit taking pictures everywhere a person goes is not an unconscious action. If we study the content of the pictures or the photographer’s intentions of taking particular pictures we could find some systematic relationship of communication. We could define systematically organized attention to relationships between travelers, their camera use, and their reactions to host populations to photographers. Also, we can study personality or characters of certain travelers if it is needed.
I think, almost every person is a traveler. Every traveler has own way to shoot pictures because everybody has different imagination, skill or knowledge. In this sense, we could do many case studies. Also, we can study problems reflected in pictures from certain country. There are a lot of things to study.
As we discussed during this class, being a photographer the traveler misses many things to see and enjoy. The pictures taken by them just frame part of whole thing.
Pictures taken in Minamata city show the power of photography again. They are so emotional pictures. If I did not see those pictures, I would not know about this event. Even when I was in Japan, I had not heard about it but about disease cased by atomic bombing. These pictures almost do not differ from the pictures of people suffering from radiation related diseases. I have seen horrible pictures in the museum in Hiroshimo. After seeing that museum, I could not eat for a while. The same feeling came when I saw this album.
Photographer Eugene Smith was both observer and participant in this event. He took all kinds of photo: suffering people, families, anti-Chisso movement, fishermen, court room etc. This album is result of his work for several years. Because he took pictures both conflicted sides does no mean this album is objective. Pictures of Chisso officials sharpen the meaning of their guiltiness. Although photographs are more truthful than written stories, it is very difficult to apply for objectivity or balance in pictures. In stories, reporters can build balance at least by quoting both sides. In photography, the situation is different. In every album, almost every picture has own bias. However, this imbalance is meaningful because the photographer with those pictures stands for the people. In this case, the photographer is a figther with the people from Minamata against pollution caused industrialization. Ten thousand people were suffering from Minamata disease.
When I read in the album that people in Minamata do not like the name of this disease, I remember the same thing related to the name of another disease. Some people call Dawn syndrome Mongoloid. People in my country do not like this name as well. Because nothing is related to this disease in history of my country. Dawn had never been to Mongolia. I read in encyclopedia that he gave this name because patients suffered by this disease had small eyes. Almost all Asian people have smaller eyes than European. Why did not he call this disease Japanoud, Chinoid or Korenoid or something like that.
Dickey Chapelle and Catherine Leroy are names that I should memorize and tell Mongolian journalists. To be a war correspondent is difficult. To be a photographer might be even more difficult, especially for women. Not every person could be a war correspondent. It depends on person’s personality, I guess. Probably, a rebellious child like Catherine Leroy had a more chance to become a war correspondent because she was ready for any risk. There could be many reasons for a person to become a war correspondent. Being raised in pacifist family, Dickey Chapelle became a war correspondent because she not only fulfilling journalistic duty but also she hated the war. Mainly, the way to see the world defines the course of life for any person. I don’t think they came to photograph the war with intentions to become famous.
War correspondents are always been criticized for not being objective or taking one side. It is clear that access to both or more sides of information is almost impossible because those sides are enemies to each other. If your country is involved in conflict, it will be even more difficult. It is good that the photographers had access to military plane and operations according to the permission of the Military Assistance Vietnam Command.
Work of war correspondents influenced anti-Vietnam war movement among civilians. Dickey Chapelle and Catherine Leroy were both “… the most stubbornly persistent, bullheaded photographers…” We read what psychological trauma she got during the war and how it was difficult to recover. Every person involved in the war must have trauma like that or more. Dickey Chapelle could not tell about her trauma because of her early death.
I am wondering how suitable the phrase “A moth is drawn to a flame”. It might be suitable for American readers to understand them. However, it will give different opinion in my culture. We have the same phrase in Mongolian language but it has different expression. In literature, writers usually used it to describe not serious, light-minded women.
This readings introduced Robert Frank to me first time. His book “The Americans” became a single subject for study several times because of its influence on American photography. Critics and scholars expressed different opinions. I liked some of them. For instance one (William Scott) said “Frank’s influence went further: his way of seeing changed-expanded-the way most educated Americans saw their country” (p.567). I think he is so critical rather than just being a stranger to Americans. Critical thinking is a main character of the most American people because their society is based on individualism. In contrast, Asian society is based on collectivism. So conformity is a main character of people. Even though, most Americans are critical they do not like being criticized from outside. It is the same with people from other countries. In Mongolia, educated and intelligent people talk many critical things about the country among themselves. But if foreign correspondents write something critical about Mongolians they start to express their opinions against the stories. I think, the same kind of patriotism was evoked among American people after seeing “The Americans”.
Of course, his pessimism was one of factors that influenced his work. Personality of a person always remains a sign in his/her work as far as it concern people from artistic field. Richard Woodward’s article in The New York Times magazine is wholly dedicated to this idea. The author came running to moments from his biography many times in order to explain his works.
I agree that “The Americans” contains sad photos. It might referred to 60-s. But those photos are very much related to his first impressions about America as interpreted some researchers. He came in 1947, but photos from 60-s. It means first impressions are very strong for people and they can follow people for a long time. I remember my first impressions about America when I read these stories. Before coming to Columbia, I attended the English as Second Language course at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. We came on Sunday of late June. My imagination about America was many people in the streets like in Tokyo and skyscrapers everywhere. But I did not see any people because during the summer the campus was empty. Our group consisted of 22 people from different countries stayed in two story dormitories. There were no high buildings around us and a strange sound followed us everywhere. Later we found that sound was from air-conditioning system. Only what we could see was cars running on the road. If I were a photographer at that moment, I would shoot only cars and buildings.
Portraits represent people to others. In this sense, portraits are documentary. For example, I know my grandparents only by their portraits. Their portraits are important documents of my family tree. Many historical figures are known by their portraits published in books. Their portraits are unique documents of history and subjects to study. From those portraits people know what kinds of people were those historical figures. Just the appearance of a person can tell a lot: his/her character, how he/she looks and what they wore.
On the other hand, portraits are a kind of fine art which requires different technology from drawing in reflection of objects. Portraits are related to fine art because they always need aestetic concern. People (objects) tend to be represented nicely on portraits. As Max Koslof wrote “here is a person who has decided to be nice about the superior consciousness he has (p.14)”. Historically, we know many drawing portraits from last centuries before the invention of the photography. I think, the way to present people in fine art and in photography almost is the same: to show nice people.
When I listed albums by Rita Reed and Nancy Andrews with pictures of gays and lesbians, I had the same thought “ Nice pictures”. They are portrayed nicely and naturally as any other people could be portrayed. The portraits demonstrate just who they are. But texts raise more social problems they face in their lives. Portraits showed that they are the same people as others. But texts tell us they are different because of their sexuality. Some people treated them badly.
Those pictures gave me a lot of thoughts. Before coming to America, I quite did not understand about gay and lesbian community. Now I know that nothing wrong with those people. It is not illness, it is inborn thing. I think, every person could be a minority in a certain situation and in a certain place regarding to his/her nationality, race, age or sex … Those albums should have benefited in raising problems in society and making decision about this community. Seeing those pictures I admired braveness of the objests posed in front of the camera and ability of the photographers to take their pictures in various circumstances.
Almost every photo in the newspaper is highly selective view of the actual world on whatever subject it is. However, when we read a newspaper and look at pictures we do not think about selection. We just accept photos as they are. We get used to see sports photos expressing Joy of victory or Agony of Defeat. I, personally, like such photos because it is like they bring me into an action and make me feel the same way: be happy or sad.
Sports pictures are very strong. They inspire people the most of the time. I love to see pictures of young and energetic people (athletes) in newspapers and magazines. Honestly, I never thought about stereotypes created by those pictures till I read Dianne Hagaman’s article. As the author wrote “Newspaper photographers solve this problem (to have sufficient “impact” to catch the readers’ eye) by making highly conventionalized images, using a limited number of visual components and compositional devices to illustrate a limited number of ideas or “stories”. In this problem solving process a photographer is not along. Editors and reporters play important roles, too: assigning and telling a story idea.
In the International Issues Reporting class, we talked a lot about stereotypes of certain countries and nationalities. We have learned that the stereotypes are considered to be “pictures in the head” of individuals looking out into their social worlds (Lippmann, 1922). In this sense, the pictures of athletes are already in our heads and photographers just are reinforcing those thoughts by offering pictures from certain places. People already know there will be a happy winner, a sad loser, an angry coach and emotional fans.
There are two kinds of approaches in stereotyping: individual and collective. In general, mass media are important collective repository for group stereotypes. For example, stereotyping in pictures from Sport land is provided by group values and group behavior and it is culturally shared with the people. Regarding to sport celebrities, there could be individual approach to their stereotyping. For example, picture of flying Michael Jordan.
Photography as a scientific tool. I did know about it, but I never thought about it deeply until those readings in the book “The power of the Photography” by Vicki Goldberg. Things, not people are dominated in scientific pictures. But those things are situated in different places: on the Earth or in the Space and inside or outside of a body… Some of them are gigantic and some of them are invisible objects. The most of them are movable and changeable. Those characteristics make difficult to shoot objects. Therefore, some pictures are taken accidentally and some pictures are taken with careful preparations.
Goldberg pointed out historical perspectives of scientific pictures which was very interesting to read. She What she used as a single fact or an example could be a topic of a whole story or book. For instance, how Fox Talbot took pictures through a solar microscope or how Henry Draper photographed the Sun is worth of a book. There might be separate books about those events. Just I wanted to say that Goldberg’s book makes me thirsty for further readings.
The photograph is a lobbyist. The photograph is an evidence. Those were other interesting points described from historical perspective as well. She gave several examples of using photographs in setting up National Parks in America. A set of photos was sent to the President and legislators and they approved the bill. Photos contributed to creation of National Parks because they were “influential scientific report” (p.40).
Another thing I liked in this reading is international perspective in using photography in various field. And I started to think about my country as usual connecting to this subject. As I know American naturalist, explorer and author Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960) made expedition to Central Asia at the beginning of the last century. He discovered the first known fossil dinosaur eggs in Mongolia and brought them to the American Museum of Natural History. He was one of the first foreign scientists who took not only pictures of his discoveries but also pictures of ordinary people. Before coming foreigners on the Mongolian land people had no idea about photography. Thanks to those pictures, we know how were Mongolian people a century ago. People were very shy in front of the camera. Even, it seemed, they were scared. As I read in the book, some people thought their spirit was gone with the sound from the camera.
Family photographs are taken to remember and to be remembered. They represent individuals who share ties and kinship or household. Family photographs and albums are a medium of interpersonal, small group communication. In this sense, we first offer to our guests the family photo albums. Actually, we serve the guests with the tea (To serve visitors first with hot tea with milk and salt is a tradition in my country) and then give the albums. This way we usually begin our interaction with others. When the guests drink tea, they change just a few words of greetings. While they start to look at the pictures, they ask many things to know or clarify. They may find common things to share or different things seemed exciting. The light discussion based on photographs help me a lot to interact with other people. By nature I am not a talkative person. It is always been hard for me to start discussion with people even I know them very well. Therefore, to offer my guests to see the family albums became a habit for me. Photos can talk on behalf of me because a picture may be “worth of a 1000 words”.
On the other hand, family photographs function as cultural documents serving the needs of social continuity and integration (Chalfen, p.15). We get a lot of information from previously taken family photos and transfer a lot of information by our family photos. My family has many photos albums back in Mongolia, but we brought here several of them. Physically, it was difficult to bring all of them because they would not fit in the luggage. My twin daughters, 13 who came to America five months later than me, selected photos from our family albums. They decided to bring here photos of their grandparents, relatives, cousins, their classmates and our nuclear family photos. They left photos of our friends and pictures of my and their father’s childhood or student hood. They selected dominantly color pictures except three or four black and white pictures. Therefore, this paper will be based on highly selected pictures. By nature, family photos “…are not simple mechanical records of real events”, they are “carefully selected and socially patterned representations of different features of family life” (Musello, p.106). However, my family albums brought to America even more selective; they went through two gate keeping processes: one is by photographers who took the pictures and another is by my daughters who decided what pictures to bring.
As Matthews and Wexler wrote, “Family photographs can be formal or informal, made by professionals or intimates, and taken in a studio, at home or in another location” (p.81). The photos for analysis in this paper are mostly informal pictures taken by amateur photographs including me and my family members except several. Those informal pictures had been taken since 1992 when we possessed an automatic Nikon camera. By that time, a camera was considered one of the luxury things in Mongolian society. Not every family had a camera. But now things are changed. I think families with cameras are more than families without cameras. Before having a camera, we went to studios to be photographed or asked someone to come to our family gatherings. According to Chalfen, “Historically, the production of personal imagery has been the province of the political, aristocratic, or otherwise influential elite. However, the making of snapshots and family albums allows ordinary people to participate in this means of documentation, preservation and communication” (P.15).
Family photography were studied from many perspectives: as a form of folklore (Kotkin 1978), from social class differences (Gardner) and in cross cultural contexts (Chalfen1987) etc. A researcher Kotkin defined three levels of family photography. First, Photographs evoke stories and expressions. Second, they derive from widely shared values and aesthetics. Third, they become part of the rituals (P.6). I am trying to classify my family photos by these three levels and analyze them in this paper.
Photographs evoking stories and expressions
Viewed over time, photographs evoke stories and expressions, and may even serve as the basis for family legends. Among the pictures we brought, our nuclear family pictures are dominating. We did not have a camera when my twin daughters were born. When we first time to bring them to the studio they were five and half months. It was a sudden decision during our walks in the fresh air. Five people are on this pictures (August, 1987) including my husband, my kids, me and my husband’s younger sister who helped us to grow my twins(Figure 1). A few days after this picture a scary thing happened in my family: one of my twins had a terrible stomachache. She got in emergency room and then she spent a month in a hospital mostly with her father. I was between a hospital and home because I suppose to breast feed another one and look after the sick daughter. It was a hard time for me. I thought that I was going to lose her. My mother-in law is very superstitious woman. She believed that we brought my daughters to the studio at wrong time. She had own justification to say that because one boy of her eight children died when he was infant. Some days before his death, she brought him to the studio. He was healthy by that time, but after taking pictures he got sick and doctors could not save his life. His nude picture is still in the family album of my parents-in-law. Fortunately, my daughter’s life was saved. She recovered very slowly. Her teeth came out late and she did her first steps later than another one.
Her late development reflected on the second picture which was taken in 1989, one and half year apart from the first picture of my twins. One of my twins looks smaller and thinner than another one (Figure 2). This was their second birthday. According to Mongolian tradition, we should cut hair of girls when they reach even ages and hair of boys when they reach odd ages starting from three. We intentionally brought them to be photographed. This was not only an expression of parental affection but also a culturally defined duty to the young. This individual photo highlights that their hair was cut of which is very important for Mongolians who traditionally believe that not cutting infant hair brings many downs in a person’s life. A photographer who all day spent to take pictures in the background settings of Sukhbaatar Square, a main square in Ulaanbaatar city, took this picture. When we came to pick up this picture, we found a white spot on the forehead of one daughter. We were very frustrated. The photographer suggested to bring my kids again for taking of another picture. But for my husband and I, it was important to keep the birthday’s picture of my daughters with shiny heads to show them later.
Also, without this picture my twins would hardly believe that they were bow-legged because of deficiency of calcium in their bodies. Currently, they look at this picture and laugh. After that, we went to the studio at least once a year.
Until one of my twins said me “I want to be photographed along”, I did not realize that we are treating the twins like one person: dressing the same clothes, taking their pictures always together and suggesting them to do the same thing. Philosophically, there is no exactly the same people even though they are twins or brothers and sisters. I did think about it but I do not remember did I take a separate picture when she asked. Even teachers at the day care center treated them not separable. Once they invited a studio photographer to the center. The photographer brought male and female national costumes. Each girl and boy was photographed separately but not my twins. To take their photo together they dressed one of the twins like a man and took the picture (Figure 3).
After their younger sister was born, all three of them became subjects on many pictures. My youngest daughter was photographed when she had a hair cut as well but not in studio. Nancy Holm, an American journalist took her picture while we were traveling in the rural area. (Figure 4) This picture has more quality. It was processed in Denmark. Since that time, my youngest daughter became a single subject of our family photography. Her picture taken in July 1999 by a professional photographer Dorjiin Dygar took first place in the photo contest organized by a Japanese photo agency Konica. At that time I was in America and I got this news when I called home. My husband told a history of this photograph after coming here to join me.
Initially, my Japanese friend Norica Sato who gave a kimono to my youngest daughter asked me to send my daughter’s photo wearing the kimono. I wrote e-mail to my husband to send such picture. He asked Dygar to take picture of my daughter. Even though my husband had a camera, he wanted more nice picture relying on an ability of a professional photographer. Dygar took some pictures inside and outside. Then he asked my husband if he could photograph my daughter for the photo contest. His idea was to take a picture on the top of the building. My husband agreed and they got a permission to go to the roof of the building from the manager. (I am sure that if I were at home by that time and if they asked me to take my kid to the top, I would not give a permission.) Some my nephews followed them to support my kid who was only six. He tried several shots and send them to the contest commission. A month later he and my daughter got invitations to come to the ceremony where they found out the picture called “The prayer” took the first place. It is very colorful picture. My daughter in yellow kimono is staying on the roof of the nine story building close to the blue sky. Behind her images of blurred mountains and roofs of other buildings (Figure 5). “Mom, I was scared. It was very windy there” she told me later.
Each photo has own history because “cameras don’t take pictures, people do” (Byer, p.27). Everything related to certain photos on people who take those photos. When my husband do photographing he tends to make nice photos. He is very careful in choosing background settings. In contrast, I prefer to take action photos because they are very natural looking. I don’t like organized photos or juxtapositions. I want to be more agressive than my husband while taking photos. Now my twins already have learned how to photograph and they take pictures they want. We bought them one small digital camera to encourage them in photographing.
As single photographs represent one way that a family images itself in particular time in space, the album is a way of organizing those images into cohesive record of shared experience.
Photographs shared values and aesthetics
People pose in similar ways and have similar settings in their photos. It means those photos derive from widely shared values and aesthetics. Many images in my family albums are made with considerable deliberation. For instance, no matter who was a photographer, subjects in the photos were posed in important background settings as in many tourist snapshots. My husband and his friend (1992) chose a big Budda Statue as a backgound in Taiwan (Fiqure 6). Brigitte, a librarian of the Danish School of Journalism and I (1996) were standing in front of a traditional house made of straw at Arhus natural museum in Denmark (Fiqure 7). My sister in-law with her niece (1998) at the Red Square in Moscow (Fiqure 8). The Mongolians have a proverb saying that “ It is better to see once than to hear a thousand times”. Usually we take photographs not only to keep for ourselves but also to show others and to prove of what we have seeing or where we have been to. When we travel abroad, we try to include famous constructions or buildings as background settings. Since my country is landlocked and it does not have exit to ocean, to see ocean or sea was always my dream. Therefore, I take pictures if I go to see big waters. And I have two pictures taken on the bank of sea. But water is not an attractive background for people seeing those photos. That is why, I explain “This is a photo made on the bank of Northern Sea with Brigitte” or “This is Nurgul, a Mongolian journalist and I in front of the Japan Sea”. Just after that explanation people started to look carefully.
But sometimes background settings can confuse people. There are two photos to concern about that. One is made in Tokyo in 1998. But the appearance of the Statue of Liberty behind Nurgul and I always confuse people (Fiqure 9). By that time I never went to the U.S. But some people who did not have any idea where the Statue of Liberty is situated could think I really was in New York. Another photo taken in Chicago in front of the building alike the Babel Tower gives to some people understanding that I have been to Italy (Fiqure 10). Once a friend of mine asked me “When did you go to Italy?”.
Many photographs in our family albums represent Mongolian culture which is unique by its nomadic style. Even though we live in the city at least two or three times a year we go to rural area sometimes with whole family and sometimes with foreign journalists. People in the nature is one of the main subjects of my family photographing. My husband feels like a child when he rides a horse. That is why I took his picture. But his photo taking by a Danish student specialized as a photographer is more clearly shows his happiness. From this picture we can see his full face. My daughters are interested in everything in rural area. They pictures could great series named “City girls in the rural area.” They want to try everything: to ride a horse or reindeer, to touch baby goat or to sleep in a tent. My husband and I tried to reflect their excitement in pictures. But it is impossible to reflect everything and every moment.
Because we are from family oriented culture, kinship photographs are most important assets of my family. My husband and I both from extended family. He is the third child among seven siblings and I am the third one too but among nine children. In Mongolian culture family gathering is important thing. Both my mother and my mother-in-law always want to have small kids around themselves. When my kids were small they expected to come us on every weekend. If we escaped one weekend they were offended. It became a habit for us to take my kids to their grandparents homes. Obviously, they always wanted to spend holidays together with all their children and grandchildren. Sometimes, we took pictures on the family gatherings where everybody was happy to pose. Hardest thing is to make copy available for all families on the pictures.
Photographs become part of the rituals
Photographs capture the common folkloric events in the family such as birthdays, weddings, and holidays. We do not imagine such events without people photographing or recording. This way photographs become part of the rituals they record.
Historically, in Mongolia, it was a tradition to celebrate 50-th, 60-th and 80-th anniversaries of the birthday of a person. It was not convention to celebrate children’s birthdays except a ritual for newborn child which is similar to baptizing in Christian countries. However, under the influence of Western culture Mongolian families started to celebrate their children’s birthdays. We celebrated several time s the birthdays of my kids. Only picture of my youngest daughter’s birthday celebration was kept in our family album. She was turning five years and she was like Snow White (Fiqure 11). Coming here changed the way of celebration of birthdays in our family. Here even my husband and I celebrated our birthdays.
We had series of our wedding photos. They were all in black and white. In 1987, the Wedding Palace did not take color pictures. Here we brought only one picture of our wedding. Recently, we received pictures of the wedding of the youngest sister of my husband (Fiqure 12). It is very nice and bright picture I ever seeing. Apparently, photographing of wedding at the Wedding Palace became so professional. Wedding photos are becoming art photos.
In my family album we have local or nonlocal photographs. It is different classification from Gardner’s which means “Local photographs comprised those taken within the immediate vicinity of the respondent’s home or within an adjacent community and, in either case, within a 20-mile radius of the home. If the boundary of picture-taking extended beyond this parameter, the picture was classified as nonlocal.” Concerning geographic boundaries, the pictures taken in my country are considered to be local and the pictures abroad are nonlocal. Living in America expands our family pictures. Everybody in my family is alert to take pictures wherever we go to Chicago, Jefferson or to Saint-Louis. Although photography takes time and costs money, it is becoming one of the characteristics of my family along with traveling.
Chalfen. R (1987). Snapshot Versions. 71-99
Chalfen. R. Japanese American Family Photography: A brief Report of Research on home Mode Communication in Cross-Cultural Contexts. 12-16
Kotkin. A. (1978). The family Photo Album as a Form of Folklore. 4-8
Musello. C. (1977). Family Photography in Images of Information. 101-119
Diana was the first Princess of Wales in a long time, and she became a powerful national symbol in the
Diana was a condensed symbol of love, divorce, fragmented families, stardom and failure, beauty and eating disorders, also of marginalized groups like AIDS, leprosy, and landmine victims. In addition, she had the charisma that only certain royal have an undoubted regality that sets apart, along with the ability to connect with ordinary people through touch and look. (Walter, p.17)
During the massive public grief and since then, the public intensely criticized both the monarchy and the press. There are certain reasons why the public would condemn these two insitutions in the unexpected death of the Princess of Wales
National and personal identity
Obviously, the Queen and the Prince had no intention to kill Diana. However, two factors had formed public opinion that they were hostile to her. First factor is the Diana‘s active role in transvaluation of national values. Second is the image of the Princess framed by the media.
The marriage of Lady Diana Spenser to Charles, Prince of Wales, in 1981, and Diana’s funeral, in 1997, defined a period during which British values shifted or transformed themselves. The marriage betokened long-established moderate Protestant and secular values that centered on household and that required the sacrifice of private interest for public good. The funeral is the most notable and truly extraordinary British event of the decade, which showed that British values now sanction self-interested and autonomous individuals.
According to German sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies in the nineteenth century, there are two types of social values: Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. He meant by Gemeinschaft “a social relationship between individuals based on affection, kinship, or membership of a community, as within a family or group of friends.” He meant by Gesellschaft “ a social relationship between individuals based on duty to society or to an organization (
In a case of Diana, her marriage was a celebration of Gemeinschaft values because monarchy as family meant monarchy as household. During the 1980s and 1990s, there was a major diminution of Gemeinschaft values. Diana’s later assertion of self-interest made her a symbol of change in the status of women. Finally, Diana’s funeral was a signal that the balance of British values had decisively shifted to the side of Gesellschaft.
The press coverage of Diana showed the analogy between her life and fairy tales. Although she came from a noble family, she often had been depicted as a Cinderella by the press. Her funeral has been showed in a parallel with the tale Snow White. Many journalists used the fairy-tale parallel when writing about her marriage. For example, Journalist Diane Clehane (1998) thought the fairy tale symbolism was mirrored by Diana’s clothes: something new (silk from Lulingstone, the only silk farm in
Like a good fairy tale, the Princess was not only young and beautiful but also winsome and sweet and good and kind. In a word, she was a champion of the oppressed and common people. Diana associated with underdogs who loved her, but the royal family was jealous of her. Fairy tales often portray active older women as evil. So the press, particularly tabloids, transformed Queen Elizabeth II into a wicked stepmother after Diana’s death. Readers imagined that wicked Queen Elizabeth pursued Diana and, in fear for her life, Diana ran away. The handsome Prince, claim the tabloids, did not save her. In contrast, the Prince was weak, indifferent, and mostly absent.
The tabloid coverage about Diana’s life was factually implausible, but the factual errors were only half the faults. The tabloid authors depicted Diana as passive, victimized, but also the good woman. This way they reinforced Gemeinschaft values. They did not recognize Diana as a symbol of a new transvalued gender role. Even a year after her death the tabloid newspapers are using her ambiguous phrase “The palace is out to get me!” In addition, they had supplied the details said by Morton Andrew, the Diana’s own-chosen biographer. Morton said, “Diana fully expected a murder attempt. At the very least, she thought she’d be committed to a mental institution (Freilich, 1998).”
In reality, Diana symbolized the new balance of values. The views in the tabloids were old-fashioned because of changes in British values. Diana’s example led women away from Cinderella or Snow White and away from the damaged female identity in those and other classic fairy tales. She led nation away from a narrow conception of liberty that denied people of color and homosexuals their rights.
Relationship between Diana and the Press
Researchers Billig (1992) and Watson (1997) strongly concluded about the relationship between Diana and the Press. They pointed out that nor does the argument stand up that Diana was simply a creation of the media, like
The pictures evidently showed that before the separation from Prince Charles in 1992 she was shy in front of the camera. The pictures of her after 1992 showed her as an active and stylish woman. Why there were such changes? First, a little biography.
Diana was born on July 1, 1961, at Park House, Sandrinham, in the
On February 24, 1981, Prince Charles and Diana announced their engagement, and on July 29, 1981, they were married in
Diana and Charles made a formal separation in 1992, but both maintained a façade of cooperation in order to raise jointly their two sons. They divorced on August 28, 1996, and Charles gave Diana a substantial financial payment. After the separation and the divorce, Diana remained astonishingly popular. Millions adored her, and she used her popularity to assist many charities, especially those for sick children, battered women, land-mine victims, and AIDS patients. She was the most famous and most photographed woman in the twentieth century. Journalists hounded her, especially the freelance photographers known as paparazzi. Diana died on August 31, 1997, in
Applying to personal identity theory,
She consulted with psychotherapist Susie Orbach who opposed monarchy and supported British republic. Orbach’s view deeply influenced Diana. Orbach recommended that Diana assert self-interest as the cure for psychological and physical problems. Diana did turn from naïve confusion to a bold and mature assertion of self-interest. She was confused just before and after the separation. She acted decisively in making any revelations to Morton at all because she had broken palace tradition and angered her husband and the Queen. (She had a lover James Hewitt, an army officer). Her clear goal was to earn the public’s whole sympathy, and she never lost it. She was much more skillful in the context of obtaining a divorce settlement of thirty million dollars.
According to old court traditions, royal men were allowed adultery, but women were not. Courtiers maintain the connection between the royal court and outside world. They control the monarchy’s publicity or public relations. Hostile to Sarah, the Duches of York, they used their public relations power and deliberately exposed her adultery to press photographers and to her husband. As a result Sarah’s connection to the royal family was destroyed. Diana realized that what courtiers had done to Sarah they could do to her. Courtiers required her to sacrifice private will and to maintain the public image of the monarchy.
However, Queen Elizabeth II ordered that Diana’s name not to be mentioned in the Queen’s presence again, and her majesty deprived the Princess of the title “Her Royal Highness.” The Queen did allow aircraft to fetch Diana’s body back to
Childhood friends, Sarah and Diana defied court etiquette together. Press photographs showed them laughing at royal functions and poking people with umbrellas. To allow herself a royal public role as a divorced woman and confessed adulteress, to allow herself, that is, to assert her self-interest, Diana had to break the royal family’s long tradition. Her actions coincided with the shift to a new equilibrium of British values, an equilibrium of which she became the symbol. As Lady Colin Campbell (1997) noted, Diana was not intellectual, but she was intelligent. So she did know how to use media to create a public adoration for her. Diana understood that the British, and specially the English, have always used discussion of monarchy as sort of national shorthand for discussions of moral rules, identity, and national direction.
Diana perfected consumer culture because she displayed magnificent patterns of consumption. Also, she made few references to high culture but many to the consumer culture. Diana’s interaction with consumer image made her resemble pop artists such as Andy Warhol. Pop art was a movement of the 1950s that constructed a middle ground between high art and low art. According to
At the Diana’s funeral, her brother Earl Spencer spoke against media. On the other hand, critics have suggested that ‘the people’ were crudely manipulated by the media, notably by television and the tabloids. The tabloids immediately attacked for causing Diana’s death, needed to rehabilitate themselves. They did this in a number of ways. First, they ran the story that the driver was drunk, thus absolving the paparazzi of significant responsibility. Second, as the week progressed, main news story not Princess’s death but the public responses to her death, which was thereby amplified as more and more people decided to join in the mourning portrayed in the media pictures that saturated the week. Third, this enabled the press to point the finger at the Royal Family for being out of touch with ‘the people’.
A French magistrate ruled that Henri Paul had been driving while intoxicated. However, the photographers were blamed most from the side of the public. For instance, Mohammed Al Fayed’s (Dodi’s father) attorney Georges Kiejman argued “Paul’s alcohol level does not change the problem. Certainly alcohol played a role in the sharing of responsibilities. But the initial responsibility is that of the photographers whose behavior required him to take a route that was not the normal route, at a speed that he should not have driving at. No paparazzi, no accident (Sancton and Mcleod, p.299).”
After Diana’s death, ten photographers faced the voluntary homicide charges that were dropped latter half of 1998 and several of them faced non-assistance charges (?)
Diana’s behavior and appearance were reportable and camera worthy all the times since she became the Princess of Wales. As Goldberg pointed out, the camera is a particularly exacting taskmaster of the famous (p.133).
Diana’s paparazzi phobia was getting to Dodi as well. The couple had a secret six-day vacation in July 1997 in the
It was more complicated to avoid paparazzi every day. One Greek newspaper had offered 280 million drachmas for a picture of Diana. The captain of their small cruiser would call his friends around
Diana did not object to the photos per se -- as long as she could exert some direct or indirect control over what pictures were taken. Images of her looking tanned; healthy, relaxed, and happy did not seem to trouble her. What she detested was being constantly hunted by any job with a camera and a motorbike that fancied her as easy prey for a quick quid. Diana clearly adored the results when she agreed to photo shoots with glamour photographers like Snowden, Terrence Donovan, Patrick Demarchelier, and Maria Testino. Paparazzi were the wolf pack she hated, not pictures.
At the very last day, when they arrived at Le Bourget airport Dodi could see the paparazzi from the window and asked the Transair personnel if they could help them to avoid cameras. There was not much anyone could do about it. As soon as the door opened, the cameras started clicking. The resulting pictures along with other following photographs later became evidences for the investigation and the court process.
Not every photographer can deal with paparazzi. So who were those ten photographers hunting after the Princess Di and her lover Dodi and what they told about themselves?
Jacques L angevin, 44. He was sent to the Ritz on August 30 because he was Sygma’s duty man that weekend. He said, “ it’s not shameful to do photos of people. It is not my choice, but I do consider myself a versatile photographer.” His prize-winning work from such far-flung places as
Romuald Rat, 24. He is remembered as the guy who leaned into the wrecked Mercedes and put his hand on Diana’s neck to take her pulse. “Romauld is a nice guy, there is never a problem with him,” said a limousine driver who often drives stars around
Christian Martinez, 41, is true paparazzi. He works for the Angeli agency. He is a 15-year veteran on the business. A newspaper editor who worked with him said, “
Serge Benhamou, 44. He works with the well-known celebrity photographer Laszlo Veres. He is less paparazzo than a groupie is. He always rides a scooter. He left the scene earlier than others because he “could not stand it.” He told police he did not want to see the pictures he had taken “because I took photos and now I know that people are dead. It is a horrible memory.”
Laszlo Veres, 50 is a native Hungarian, runs own agency specializing in celebrity and fashion photography. He came to the scene because Benhamou called him on a portable phone. When he heard about the accident he thought it was a banal fender bender. “I was amazed when I saw the car. I took a few photos of the overall scene from about thirty meters away.” Some years ago, Alain Delon’s car collided with him during an abortive chase. “He is wily, gruff, ans secretive, but basically a good egg,” said an American celebrity journalist.
Serge Arnal, 35, is celebrity specialist, too. “Our photographer was only a ‘people’ photographer, who usually does festivals and parties,” said his boss Bruno Calin, head of the Stills agency. Pursuing Di and Dodi in his black Fiat Uno, with
Fabrice Chassery, 30, and David Oderkerken, 26. They work for an authentic paparazzo agency, LS Presse. They took several rolls of film and left just at the moment when police started pushing photographers back. They drove directly to the office of Laurent Sola, the head of the agency, and dropped film off for processing. Sola had developed pictures immediately and selected five photographs of Diana being treated by medics. The pictures were transmitted by computer to his agent in
Lionel Cherruault, 37. He is a
Nikola Arsov, 38. He was never blamed for selling Diana photos to a tabloid because he forgot to turn on his electronic flash in the heat of the action and not a single one of his pictures came out. He emigrated from
Those ten different men with different experiences in the business and representing different agencies were blamed in causing accident led to the three persons’ death: Diana, Dodi and Henri.
Relationship between a public figure/famous person and the media is complex. When their interests coincide, they have love-relationship like Diana’s interview to Martin Bashir on BBC or her specially posing pictures for the media. When they have different interests, they hate each other. In terms of paparazzi, a hate relationship might reach the highest level. On one hand, a public figure has two sides in her/his life: private and public. As far as the public life concerns, a public figure wants more publicity and allows the media to cover. Often he/she invites media people to follow his/her public appearance. However, a public figure does not want his/her private life is publicized. On the other hand, the media wants cover every step of a public figure for their audience. As a former Turkish journalist Sipahioglu said, “I am saddened, because someone we adored is dead. But when you become Lady Di, you become a public person. She was posing all the time in St. Tropez, in
Campbell, C. (1998). The real Diana.
Clehance, D. (1998). Diana: The secrets of Her Style.
Freilich, L. (1998, October 20) Diana’s secret fear: Palace is out to get me! They will stop at nothing. Star
Warren, H. (1997, September 5). Diana Buried as a Capital Mourns. New York Times,
Sancton, T. & Macleod, S. (1998.) Death of a Princess: The investigation.
Blair, T. (1997, September 26). interview by David Frost, Talkng with David Frost, Burrels Information Services.