Thursday, June 18, 2009

Photography (Reflection paper)

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 India; I was sad and felt sorry about what happened. That feeling followed me whole day. I have seen that kind of picture many times and they influence me every time in a same way. May be it is not related only to naturalism.

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.


January, 2001

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