Words and images are two ways to describe what is happening within the world. Words represent the world in a more academic and textual form, while images represent the world through the eyes of many. Each reading by Errol Morris dealt with photography, how they’ve been examined, what the results within the images were, and what the text states is happening. The three essays I read each try to prove what is actually happening within the photos they are about, and how we can come to that conclusion.
“Whether it be a painting or a photograph, the picture is a symbol that brings one immediately into close touch with reality” said Lewis W. Hine in Social Photography. I felt like that this connected best within Morris’ piece Photography as a Weapon, because though one of the photos was manipulated people saw it as a reality of war. The viewed the photo of the missiles, as something bad was going to happen, ignoring the rewrites, and the corrections to the actual story.
The overall story told in the Photography as a Weapon, is a photograph of four Iranian missiles, that apparently was tampered with. The original picture was of three missiles and the fourth was copy, pasted, and altered to look as if it were there. There are many reasons why, but my overall assumption was to provoke something from some where. Although I feel that just the fact that there were missiles launched period should do just that. Why must there be four?… To get back on the point of photography and manipulation, I chose to relate this article back to one read within class. First Major Exhibition Devoted to History of Manipulated Photography Before Digital Age Opens at Metropolitan Museum October 11 discusses photos that were manipulated on purpose to show different views. One that stood out and related to this essay was the portion about “Politics and Persuasion”, which deals with photos such as the one of the missiles is manipulated to put a certain image within the audiences mind. Besides the Political view the reading also talks about “Pictures in Print” which states that newspapers and magazines will transform a photo into what they think will best attract their costumers. They will go with a lie and stretch the truth in order to get their articles read. Though majority of the time, people have to retract their statements and the false articles they write, it still doesn’t help take the image or the idea out of a persons head.
In the next essay, Will the Reall Hooded Man Please Stand Up, Morris discussed a man who took the role of someone he was not. Though he actually thought he was the hooded man. The
essay talked about a photo that showed a man being tortured at Abu Ghraib. The photo alone provoked many interest, but the story that went along with it is what kept people holding on. A photo can be a thousand words as mentioned in Annette Kuhn’s reading Remembrance, but once a caption or story is told along with it the photo is just a visual to go with the story. In the essay Morris states that “It is said that seeing is believing, but often it’s the other way around. We do not form our beliefs on the basis of what we see; rather, what we see is determined by our beliefs. We see not what is there, but rather what we want to see or expect to see.” I disagree In the image above it is cropped in many forms each causing the audience to see something different. If I had only seen the first image I would believe that this man was being captured and about to be killed. Without a caption or story of some sort I would not understand what is happening in the middle image. And for the last one it looks like the man in the photo needed help and is receiving it. But I know nothing of what is actually their because as mentioned in the article this photo is not reality, I am not there so I do not have the physical image of the story behind the image.
The last essay was The Most Curious Thing, which talked about a photo of Sabrina Harman smiling with her thumbs up over a dead man in a body bag. This essay included an interview with Harman, and overall it bothered me. Throughout the article the story of how this man was killed, and which finger was pointed at who, but in the end it went right back to the beginning. Back to wondering why this woman was standing over this dead mans body with a smile and a thumbs up. They even tried to persuade readers that she was just smiling just to smile and it was just a normal picture. And that right there is something I just couldn’t get over. Yes, there was so much more mentioned within the essay as background information, but that still doesn’t make her image right. Sorry to get of track, I was just annoyed at how she tried to come off as someone who was innocent and was just simply taking a “Cool, look what I found” picture. At the end of the essay Harman was quoted saying “No soldier thinks when they’re taking a picture with someone who has died, this is going to be shown to their family or in the press. If they did think that, I’m sure that nobody would ever take a photograph like that.” That could be the case in this issue, but either way its still wrong.
Overall, the three essays each gave a different view on the effects photography can have and has had on the audience, and just as mentioned before a photo can be portrayed in many ways, but once it has a caption or story added to it, the photo will constantly relate back to that. Within each essay, the photos used told a story, but without the stories included I wonder how the world would view those images? Below are a few images that I’d like you to take a look at.
What do you see in the image above? Tilt your head, is that image still the same?
When you look at the above image what do you see? What do you think is happening? Without a story, does your mind wander? What if I said that someone torturing this baby, and took a picture just for fun? That would make your mind instantly want to know why, who’s behind this and where is help. But the original photo is below.