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Histories of Photography - Essay Example

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Date: Histories of Photography 1. The Photographers Eye This essay looks into John Szarkowski’s five interdependent characteristics of the photographic image: the thing itself, the time, the image, the detail and vantage point…
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Histories of Photography

Download file to see previous pages... The thesis of this paper is that, modern day photography draws its insights from Szarkowski’s principle of photography as an art, since it teaches photographers to be not only creative, but imaginative. Analysis The Thing Itself Szarkowski believed that photography deals with the actual; the photographer has to accept the fact that he had no control of nature, and on in accepting and treasuring this notion would he manage photography. The photographer had to learn that the world was a unique and creative artist in itself. Szarkowski believed that though photographs were factual and convincing, they also differed from reality. The photographer had to see the filtered elements of reality and visualize the photograph before taking it, in order to capture these filtered element of reality on the photograph. The ability to do this was not only artistic; but also a way of showing truth, which the naked eye could not see. Szarkowski quotes from Hawthorne’s book, The House of the Seven Gables. Holgrave, a fictional character in the story, describes his camera as showing the truth despite trying his attempts to hide reality. In this case, the image survives reality and became the remembered reality. William M. Evans states that, “people in the nineteenth century believed that what was reasonable was true but in the end, they began believing that what they saw in a photograph was true” (Szarkowski8). The photograph below illustrates this phenomenon: Archaeologia Mundi (40, 55, 82, 108, 133, 135) (2011) by Hagar Schmidhalter. The Detail According to Szarkowski (p. 9), the photographer cannot pose the truth; the truth appears the photographer in fragments, therefore, the photographer is only able to capture fragments of this facts. A photograph cannot tell a story of fact; it can only depict fragments of this fact. However, Szarkowski adds to say that though photographs do not tell stories, they can be read as symbols. People can draw meaning from a sequence of fragmented photographs. Szakowski states that photographs are not meant to tell stories, rather, they are meant to make the story real; he believes narratives to be shallow, and that only photography possesses the power to show symbolic meaning (Szarkowski 42). A picture of a Soccer match does not show the results of the match, but it does capture a moment of happiness or otherwise, that has symbolic meaning to the end result of the game. E.g. Cardiff vs. Manchester United by Stu Foster (1/12/2013). The Frame According to Szarkowski (p. 9), the subject of a photographer is never self-contained; it is part of a bigger picture. The photographer, therefore, decides to isolate what it important (the subject), from its environment using the photographic edges. This frame concentrates on the edges – the line that separates the subject from its environment. In the case of the football match above, the subject is separated from its surrounding by the edges of the photograph. This defines what the photographer deemed important, but does not tell the whole story since the subject is part of a bigger surrounding. Time Photographs are not instantaneous, but rather exposure of the scene over a period of time result to real image. Photographs always capture the present, never the future; they can allude to the past through its surviving relics or foresight of the future based on ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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