Photography and evidence – conflicting perspectives.

  • Barthes – Authentication, he wouldn’t believe that he was in a certain place, only when he saw a photo of himself at an event he realized he was actually there.
  • If we accept photography as truth, are we going to question it?
  • Guardian – ‘points of view’. The most successful advert ever made. Same scenes, different perspectives – only when you get the full picture you can fully understand what is going on.
  • Do I see the whole picture? What am I bringing to the table?
  • Cartier Bresson – “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment”.
  • Don McCullin – ‘Biafra’ 1971. The most influential documentary images ever made. Exaggerations of what was going on in the country and McCullin went and produced these images to prove it.


  • Kevin Carter Pulitzer prize winning image, 1994. Really important to publish as it made people think about what was going on, hits so much controversy. Photographer committed suicide afterwards. Felt it wasn’t his role to intervene but to observe.


  • What if you are documenting something you don’t agree with?
  • W Eugene Smith – different perspective on documentary. Unlike Bresson, he believes integrity of photographer to tell the story is important, but if you move something it is not as important. It might not be truthful because he has intervened, but he hasn’t changed the essence. Similar to Diane Arbus – the boy with the grenade.
  • Tomoko in the bath, 1971. Using classic iconography of mother and child to show love and intimacy, but wanted to show the horrors of mercury poisoning in Japan. So successful but became a symbol rather than reality. Family asked for the image not to be used.


  • When we see horrific images, there is compassion fatigue – we’ve seen them so much we don’t react to them.
  • Paul Hansen, world press photo award winner 2013. Questions our sense of truth. Emotionally evocative. Hit controversy because people thought it looked too good/professional. Is this a real photograph or is it fake? Instead of processing as one image, he processed each layer separately.


  • Do we still believe in authenticity?
  • Russian history of rewriting history/evidence.
  • Amateur shots taken of American soldiers abusing prisoners. As they were amateur they were taken very seriously. May 2004. Citizen journalism.
  • Question of ethics – photo of a man on a roof with the twin towers in the background the day of 9/11. Didn’t think about how this image would be viewed in the future. Normally we see people in front of a tourist sight which we apply to this image, feels uncomfortable. Included in 5 different ways 9/11 was represented – asked people to bring in images of their experience and his photograph was placed on the wall of shame when exhibited as viewers were horrified. Wanted to document so one day he could show his children he was there. Where is our moral line?

Photography and death

  • Indiana, USA, 1930. Crowd went out to see two black men being hung. Taken by an anonymous photographer and made into a post card.
  • How does contemporary art deal with death?
  • Audrey Newkman – wasn’t unusual to see a dead member of the family in your album during Victorian times. She believes we used to have a better relationship with death than we do today. Photographing death is the last taboo.
  • Briony Campbell – The Dad Project 2009. Project about her Dad dying of cancer, wanted to find a way of remembering him and making that experience authentic. Video of stills and dialogue. Exploring personal – how do we make sense of death today.

  • Andres Serrano – artist interpretation of morgue pictures. Fragile relationship between controversial subject matter and artistry.


  • If you’re dealing with death do you have to show the person or can you represent it?

~ by victoriasimkissphotography on October 14, 2013.

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