Friday, April 3, 2009

"In Plato's Cave" by Susan Sontag

I have started taking a class the University of Oregon called The Document, we are looking in-depth at photography and it's role in media and society today. It is a tool that has many uses and we are discussing the truthfulness and validity of these uses and reading many articles about the topic. I have decided to put a few quotes I find interesting from the readings here in hopes of getting others' opinions and sharing my thoughts.

"Photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt,
seems proven when we're shown a photograph of it." ("In Plato's Cave" by Susan Sontag)
The first thing that popped into my head upon reading this is the truthfulness of photography as a tool and a form of documentation. How true the image is to the actual even or scene is entirely up to the photographer. There is a certain amount of cropping, editing, changes in lighting and other alterations that can greatly effect the way the image appears when seen in its final form. For example, zooming in on a scene can cut out important things around the subject that help to bring context to the image. Take this image for example, you can read many things into this that may or may not be there. For some of you this is a picture of silly boys on Halloween, but for others, their mind can go completely else where.

"To photograph people is to violate them by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them, they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed."
("In Plato's Cave" by Susan Sontag)

I put this quote in here because I find it interesting, I have never before heard of photography put in such a way. They speak about the photographer and about the camera as if they were a marksman with a gun.. I am not sure I entirely agree, I feel that as a photographer or an outsider at all you can capture a person in a way that shows them in a vulnerable place and show emotions they may not show often, but I do not feel that the camera and taking pictures objectifies the person. This thought parallels the idea of the camera taking a part of a person's soul with every image it captures. As a photographer i would like to believe that I am not stealing a person's soul or objectifying them, but I do believe that you play a certain role in that person's life by capturing their vulnerability and mortality.
How do these quotes make you feel?

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