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Are Photographs Representations of Real Life or Just Artistic Creations?


Lily Rose 5 / 16  
Apr 9, 2011   #1
All comments are welcomed! :) I appreciate your help on my essay! I really need your opinions: what is my weakness and where do I need to improve? Please grade my essay also. I will review your essays too, just ask me! Let's help each others and beat the writing! :) Thank you for reading.

Prompt 2

Photographs are very much a part of our daily lives. They show us faraway places, things to buy, important people and happenings, and sometimes just the ordinary. These pictures seem like frozen moments of real life. Cameras do copy what is in front of the lens, and so, in that sense, photographs show us what is real. They are at the same time, however, creations of the artist's intentions and unconscious mind.

Adapted from Leslie Sills, In Real Life: Six Women Photographers

Are photographs straightforward representations of real life, or are they artistic creations reflecting the photographer's point of view?

Essay:

Everyone has seen pictures, and may has taken pictures as well. But are pictures portrayls of real life, or reflections of the photographer's viewpoints? The answer varies, depending on the purpose of the photographer and the type of the photograph.

As an amateur photographer myself, I have taken both "realistic" pictures and "unrealistic" pictures. "Realistic" photographs are pictures recording some particular moments of life, or telling a true story. Photojournalism is "realistic" because the purpose of it is to represent true, happened stories. Therefore it should be realistic, too, since it is to tell the truth. There should not be any fake, artificial information contained in this kind of photography.

On the other hand, art photography can be fake, artificial, surreal, exaggerated. It can produce pictures for purely aesthetic and artistic purposes, and doesn't need to be real or true. For example, to take a picture of a railroad, by using different techniques and perspective, a fine art photographer can make the railroad looks longer, or wider, or shorter, or narrower than it is in real life. And by the way how the photographer handles the relationship between the railroad and the surrounding environment, the picture can show feelings of loneliness, emptiness, hopefulness, happiness or any kind of feelings or ideas that the photographer wants to show. Also, before taking pictures, many fine art photographers would "make up" the objects that they will take pictures of, such as changing the objects' appearances, so that it would be easier to produce pictures that can perfectly reflect their themes.

However, it is ambiguous to define some types of photography, that if photographs of these kinds are true images of real life, or subjective creations of the photographer, because such photographs can be productions of art while portraying real life. Fashion photography, for example, is one of these types of photography. The photographer needs to portray clothes, shoes, models in their real forms, but meanwhile, the photographer also needs to use techniques, and maybe picture editing software, to slightly change the appearances of clothes, shoes and models for either aesthetic purposes or commercial purposes. Documentary photography is another example. Although photographers need to document real people, creatures, or things, they may use techniques, and take pictures from different perspective, to show their concerns or issues they want to address.

Therefore, to say if a photograph is a true portray of real life, or a subjective creation of the photographer, one needs to make sure the type of the photograph and the purpose of the photographer. Different types and purposes lead to different answers. A photojournalism photograph is and should be a real portray of real events, while a fine art photograph can be highly artistic and creative that is only to express the photographer's own opinions.

leereel 3 / 8  
Apr 9, 2011   #2
I think it interesting your distinction between photography of a real life and as a subjective creation. But in order to develop this more clearly it should be more analysed on the base of relation between subject and object of photography. According to the focus either on subjective representation or artistic skill or on the real or created object, as you examples such as fashion or documentary show, four kinds of correlation or combination could be categorized. 1. subjective (x) objective (o) (e.g. journalistic one) 2. subjective (o) objective (x) (e.g. fine art) 3. subjective (o) objective (o) (e.g. fashion, documentary) 4. subjective (x) objective (x) (e.g. reproduction of photographic image online)
OP Lily Rose 5 / 16  
Apr 11, 2011   #3
Thank you Leereel, for your really helpful feedback :)

I missed the last relationship, but I think digital photography is subjective and objective, too, like fashion or documentary. Although most of time it can be highly subjective, like fine art photography.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Apr 11, 2011   #4
Everyone has seen pictures, and many have taken pictures as well.---I fixed the grammar, but actually this sentence should not be included. It is too obvious. Start with a sentence about the real main idea of the essay.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but are pictures portrayals of real life, or reflections of the photographer's viewpoints? The answer varies, depending on the purpose of the photographer and the type of the photograph.

As an amateur photographer myself, I have taken ...

And by the way how the photographer handles the relationship between the railroad and the surrounding environment, the picture can show feelings of loneliness, emptiness, hopefulness, happiness or any kind of feelings or ideas that the photographer wants to show. -----perfect!! This is an impressive sentence.

However, it is the definition of photography can be ambiguous. When determining whether photographs are true images of real life or subjective creations of the photographer it is important to remember that photographs can be both productions of art and portrayals of real life.

:-)


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