"...photographs are evidence not only of what's there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world"
~ Susan Sontag
As I am nearing the end of this short essay, I must now return to my initial question. So, are photographs as much interpretations of the world as paintings and drawings are? I believe that this is the case. Through this essay, I have tried to prove this by looking at different photographs, their purposes, and their codes.
I believe that a photographer is and always remains an artist, and poses a great similarity to a painter. As a painter who sometimes decides to capture an subject, and actually paints it, a unique view of that subject emerges. Others who will paint the same subject either simultaneously or at a different time, will do so in a different mannner, using an infinitely variable number and type of brush-strokes, paints, or colours. The possibilities are endless.
The photographer is not that different, since he is also creating an infinitely unique interpretation of a subject; within the constraints of an infinitely variable environment. Photographers might use different techniques in order to achieve the result that most closely resembles their interpretation of the subject. As Susan Sontag again mentions, "nobody takes the same picture of the same thing"; Even if the subject would be unchanged, the photographer is himself different and ever-changing.
With an infinite number of variable conditions in the natural, or artificial world, the results of man's interpretation are also infinite, making every result uniquely different and thus completely individual. Photographs are therefore never just copies of reality, but also constructed perspectives of reality. This is now [this refers to the year 2000] becoming more and more evident with computers and digital technology. Today the photographer has become even more like a painter, utilizing technology to further manipulate images to go so far as to represent a completely imaginary view of a subject.
Photographs may have served as undisputable evidence of things that exist or existed. Today, they cannot be looked at this way, simply because they are so easily manipulated and changed. You can for example, see a photograph of a subject that may have never existed, or of an event that may have never even happened. The argument that photographs are as much interpretations of the world as paintings and drawings are, is something we are becoming much more accustomed to today, in the digital age.
Introduction To Media Theory ~ University of Wales, Aberystwyth