3-1 Discussion: Social Import of Photography Discussion Topic
Select a historically significant photograph from this week’s resources or a traditional media source that can be accurately described as a social document. Include the link to the webpage where you located the image, and embed the image in your post.
Consider the following in your post:
What are the subject matter, formal elements, and context of the photograph?
Beauty isnt the primary goal of a social document. Still, most famous photos have visual appeal. What is the appeal of your image?
What do you believe was the photographers intent in taking the image? Were they trying to get a message across?
How subtle is the photographer’s personal bias (or opinion) toward the subject?
What qualities make it clear that this is intended as a social document (or as photojournalism) rather than being intended as decorative fine art?
For each of your response posts (at least two), select an art photograph with a subject matter similar to that of your classmate’s selection. Embed it as part of your discussion. Identify and describe some of the similarities and differences. What qualities make it more “art” than your classmate’s documentary selection?
Reply to peers after making the assignments.
Peer 1 (see attached for photo)
Tim Hetherington photo of a solider resting during wartime
Tim Hetheringtons photo about soldiers at rest outside Restrepo is the one I am choosing for this discussion. The picture is a reality of war and the feelings of soldiers. I thought about this photo for a while. In a sense, what would I feel if I was one of the people in the picture? The feeling of staying away from home, fighting with a high probability of death. It has a lot of emotions in it. Or I would appear the same as a soldier in this picture if I came as a victor from the battlefield. I think the photographer was interested in showing the features of fighting a person and the truth that they are simple humans, not fighters. I cannot think of the efforts he has to make to take this photo. Like, taking all of his stuff to a place not familiar to him, a place full of danger, where a person can lose his life too.
I think the factor that made this photo an editorial photo is that it depicts people fighting and resting on the battlefield. It presents a picture of the fighters to the people who never witness the battlefield ever. For me, this photo is interesting, as no one wants to talk about certain things, and it is one of them. The bitterness created by war and the feelings of people who went through it. This is an impactful photo, and I am sure if it was published in the photo when people were fighting, it surely impacts people’s minds. It will be stressful for people who send their loved ones, sons, and fathers out on the battlefield and see their defeated and drained faces. But, I think this photo can be seen in another way around as well. Like, such images can be replicated to depict the reality of the battlefield and soldiers as there are very few photos of soldiers are out.
I think the photographer of this photo has not taken this photo to show fight only. It sounds like he wants to show the reality of war and the feelings of people in war. Few people cannot realize the miseries of the battlefield and cannot relate to the sacrifices made by soldiers: their feelings and everything. The photographer seems to be interested in showing the people of his society that they are people too.
Rejzek, S. (2019). Tim Hetherington, a Vanity Fair photographer, based in Britain, won the World Press Photo of the Year 2007 award with this picture of an American soldier resting at a bunker in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. Freelance, Retrieved from: https://freelens.com/fotografie-und-krieg/werdet-hart-aber-bleibt-empfindsam/attachment/tim-hetherington-a-vanity-fair-photographer-based-in-britain-won-the-world-press-photo-of-the-year-2007-award-with-this-picture-of-an-american-soldier-.
Peer 2 (see attached for photo)
The subject matter in this photograph is a woman and child victims of famine. Its formal elements are perspective, composition, and focus. The perspective allows us to see the woman and child from the bottom up. It humbles us to see them as we watch this mother and child reach their arms out for something. This perspective aligns with the composition. The photographer Werner Bischof presents them in such a way that the viewer has no option but to question what is happening to the subjects or empathize with them. His photo portrays the need for help, a call to action. The focus is on the subjects hands but also on the naked baby in the mothers arms gazing down at the viewer. It is a very powerful photo.
This photograph was taken in April of 1951 in Bihar, India. The appeal of this photograph by far lies in the perspective and the contrast of this black and white image. We could assume the photographer was appealing to our emotions and possibly trying to gain government assistance in the matter. Bischof was a Swiss photographer who worked and traveled the world for Magnum photos. He disliked the superficiality and sensationalism of the magazine business.(wernerbischof.com) Suggesting through his photos that he would take it upon himself to document the realities of his subjects. This photograph is intended as a social document because of the subject itself and its particular composition. It would not be used as decorative fine art because it causes sadness. The image tells a story of a suffering mother and child. It would seem quite morbid to have it displayed as a decorative piece, but it does send a clear message and a call to social reform.