How does photography affect us?
How does photography affect us?
Photography can be used for many different purposes, it can change our opinion on how we think and feel.
Newspapers, magazines, home photography, leaflets and posters all use photos in different ways.
Newspapers use it to inform us and make us feel like we are there when looking at them.
Magazines use photography to entice us to buy products and to show us images about famous people and their lives.
Home photography is used to capture a happy moment so you can remember it and show others.
Leaflets and posters are used to advertise and inform us about what they are trying to sell.
All pictures are encoded with messages. When we look at pictures we de-code them without realising.
Ever since you were young you have been taught to de-code messages. For example when you look at a picture of someone thin from Africa you associate it with being poor.
I have looked at a photo taken by Heinz Kluetmeier. In the photo, four men are running a 400-metre championship. The photographer has very clearly achieved a sense of speed. Their feet are blurred which makes you recognise the speed at which they are moving and the determined expressions on the runner’s faces clearly shows how they are pushing themselves to win.
This is a preview of the whole essay
All pictures have signs, which signify something that we understand.
I have studied a picture by Martin Parr. He has taken a photo of a young girl with a cocktail drink in her hand and her mouth wide open. It has bright, clashing colours that signify a sense of fun and loudness. She also has a necklace saying, ‘whore’. I think she is trying to say that she doesn’t care what people think and she will have fun anyway.
You can tell from this picture that she has a fun and bubbly personality. She looks like she is always up for a laugh. I think this because of the bright colours, the way she has her mouth wide open and the cocktail she is drinking looks exotic and different, a bit like her.
All photographers use different techniques when constructing a photograph. There are many different techniques that can be used such as camera angles, lighting, colour, shutter speeds, backgrounds, expressions, clothes and many more.
I have looked at a picture of a shell shocked U.S marine soldier taken by Don McCullin to study the techniques he used.
The lighting comes in from the left hand side of the picture and really makes the man stand out. He is central in the picture with nothing to see in the background and this makes you focus on him.
Apart from the fact that the subject is wearing a helmet, the picture has also been shot in just black and white making you automatically think it was an old wartime picture because it is dull with no bright colours. Also only black and white film was used during this time.
The mans face is very muddy with an unhappy expression, he looks scared and worried. The camera is looking up at him, which makes him look like he is hiding from someone or something.
Photography can affect the way we make sense of photographs.
Newspapers can determine the side of a conflict we see. They can show us the things only they want us to see. For example if there is a war going on, our newspapers could, if they wanted to, only show all the terrible things the opposition are doing, so everyone who reads it will start to hate that side and feel we are right by going to war. However, they don’t always show both sides of the conflict and may intentionally miss out all the destruction our side are causing.
Don McCullin has taken a picture of ‘The Bogside Derry’. This is a very good example of how institutions can affect what we think. The picture is of six men holding guns running past a woman, she looks really scared and shocked. This picture makes me feel sorry for the woman and not for the six men. However it doesn’t tell me what has happened so I shouldn’t really take sides and assume that the men are obviously guilty.
The six men could have good intentions and be saving someone but because it’s a woman and she has a helpless and scared expression, I automatically think she is innocent. If it was I man I don’t think I would have had the same reaction because somehow I feel a man can look after himself better than a woman in times of war.
James Nachtwei thinks newspapers are reluctant to show his pictures because his pictures tell the truth and they may not want people to see that image. The images are of wartime and can be quite disturbing.
If a company is trying to sell a new hair product in a magazine it’s doubtful that they would want a picture by James Nachtwei on the opposite page. This is because the audience’s attention may be drawn to the other picture when they really want it to be drawn to their product. If the audience were to see a picture of starving children for example, on the opposite page, it is likely to make the readers feel sympathetic and not in the mood to spend money on a new hair product. It will make them feel selfish and spoilt.
Captions anchor a photo to give it a meaning because from one photo you can receive several different meanings. When we look at photos we think we are seeing the truth as it is taken at that specific time. This isn’t always true as all photos can be cropped. James Nachtwei felt he wasn’t showing the whole truth as the newspapers only wanted him to show one side of a conflict.
We trust photos to deliver the truth because we feel it is a form of proof. If someone tells us something we may not believe they are telling the truth. However, if we are shown a photo we believe it straight away even though it could have been cropped to get a message across which is untrue. Photography is a very good source of media to get a message across. However, it might not be a truthful message you are getting.