Visual Communications

JES JOHNSON PROCESS DIARY


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Authenticity

Photography by it’s very nature is an interpretation of ‘reality’, so I find it humorous that there is often such outrage around the authenticity of a picture. Is there any such thing as a ‘true’ image. One of the most legendary photographers ever Ansel Adams himself equates the capturing of photographs like a musical score, and the printing is the performance. “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.” And there are many ways that that performance could be done by an individual.

Some photographs can be intentionally misleading in the content however. This image below is of a ten foot stone figure that was dug up in Cardiff, N.Y., in 1869. The rumour started that it was the petrified corpse of a prehistoric giant. It latter came to light that it was a gypsum carving and was a hoax perpetrated by a man named George Hull. The photo was taken and then used as ‘proof’ of the giants existence.
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These two images are examples of the lengths people will go to to try and discredit people in power, in this case US presidents. Both images turned out to be manipulated images painting the men as something they are not.
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http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/ansel_adams.html
http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_611_24-famous-photos-you-wont-believe-were-fake_p24/#5

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Terry Barrett

This weeks task was to evaluate two images within the theoretical framework of Terry Barrett’s system of criticising photographs.

Descriptive

This refers to an image whose job it is is to show something ‘as is’. It could be argued that every photo and no photo is a descriptive one, in that all photography is interpretive; by both photographer and viewer. However, some photographers have tried to take a purist approach when it comes to capturing images, like Walker Evans for example. Evans held the notion that “A still photograph is the illusion of a literal description, of how a camera saw a piece of time and space… I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject by describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both.” Aperture, 112 (Millerton, New York: 1988), p. 53. This image below could be seen as simply the church structure that it is, or it can be taken as an example and commentary on the nature of life, religion and race in the south of the United States and all that that invokes and embodies. I suppose it could easily fit into the ethically evaluative category as well; it’s all about interpretation.

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Negro Church, South Carolina. Walker Evans, 1936

http://www.carrcialdella.com/blog/photography/the-descriptive-photograph-illusion-and-fact/

Ethically evaluative
This refers to an image that makes an ethical judgement in some way about something. This image from 2008 by Jose Cendon shows a boy in a feeding camp in Ethiopia.

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Jose Cendon, 2008

This image appeared in the UK Guardian and within this context it’s intent was to evoke feelings of compassion and empathy for the subject as a commentary on the current state of famine in Ethiopia at the time. As Barrettes explains, images such as this one attempt to instil a certain feeling or desire for feeling from the photographer or publication, rather than serve a purely descriptive purpose.

http://www.david-campbell.org/2011/05/16/thinking-images-v-17-starving-child-as-symbolic-marker/


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Interview Questions

1. What first inspired you to create this work?

2. How do you think you would describe your style?

3. What is the story behind this work?

4. Have you done any formal photographic study?

5. What do you hope to convey to people looking at your pictures?

6. Do you have a set routine or formula when creating your pictures?

7. Do you set yourself any technical rules?

8. Do you enjoy post-production or capture more?