Photographic Trickery

After reading Errol Morris’s Article, “The Case of the Inappropriate Alarm Clock,” I find myself contemplating the “truth” of photography. I think Morris makes a strong argument that those who feel as though the photographs of the F.S.A. were propagandistic and intended to trick the public are right and that those who feel like these photographers accurately captured the feeling of the time are also correct.

Morris raises many questions. Just a few are: is the intention of the artist more important than the recording the scene, exactly as it was found? Does posing a photograph automatically suggest a lack of integrity? Is there a difference between photography as art versus photography as documentation? There are no easy answers to any of these questions. It may be that each photograph needs to be looked at case-by-case. It is important to realize that there is no such thing as objective photography. That doesn’t mean that photos that are subjective hold no value or convey no useful information. As Morris discusses with Bill Ganzel in regard to the controversy surrounding Rothstien’s photo, “Fleeing the Dust Storm,” the two come to the conclusion that whether or not he pose some of the photo, “it portrays a larger reality” and therefore still holds value.

Now, I am contemplating this article in relationship to my website. I will be altering photos in order to best capture the attention of my readers and illustrate my point. The integrity of my images is important and I will not be adding people or things that would not normally be found in the locations of my photos. On the other hand, slightly changing color, inverting the photo to make people face the text, or otherwise tweaking my images to have them better serve my website are common tools of the designer and tools I will be using.

Many people react negatively when they find out that many of the masters of oil painting or sculpture have their students do most of the work and come in later in the process to make the finishing touches. This fact does not degrade the art or integrity of the artist. It is a “truth” of the art world.


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