7 April, 2000

Are photographs copies of the world, or do they represent the photographer's interpretation of the world, as Susan Sontag mentions in her book, "On Photography"? The answer to this question does not only lie in our daily lessons about visual perception, but also in the written theories about how we read images or interpret them. I will be examining these later.

It is clear, that the world around us is extremely complex and visually mind-boggling. What is seen every day forms every individual's interpretation of his or her world. Every day across the globe, people decide to frame a part of this interpretation to make it last forever or at least as long they are around to see it. The role of the photographer is the same, just like the painter who captures a moment in time - in reality or imagination - with his paintings. The photographer is also such an artist, who may capture a moment in time as he perceived it - in this case how he interpreted it. When the camera lens clicks and burns the image onto photographic film, it is as if the photographer is painting, or drawing his or her interpretation of the moment. This takes place because of the variables involved in taking a photograph. These may include the camera, the lighting, the angle, the shutter speed, the film, or the film speed. Choosing all the above, the photographer becomes the artist choosing his or her paints, paper, and brushes.

In this essay, I would like to delve deeper into the idea of photographs as interpretations of the world as Susan Sontag once famously wrote, and will attempt to describe the considerations that the artist/photographer makes in each instance.

At this point I would like to introduce my examples, their uses, and their characteristics.

View the pictures


Introduction To Media Theory ~ University of Wales, Aberystwyth