Recommended Posts


  1. All but the blind see, but many never really “See.” They take that sense for granted, and never develop it beyond the primal.

  2. We want photographs to tell us a story, but they are mute. A photographer frames and composes a photo in such a way as pleases their eye, which is informed by what they know, and by what they think they know of the world and their place in it. They look for gestures that help fill out that narrative in their imagination and most of the time with most photographs and other works of art we can only guess at what they were thinking. Later they (possibly with help from another person or possibly it is doen completely by others) edit their take, looking for the images that most fully express a story. Editing a film is similar but has more components (dialog, how it is spoken, and music, and of course the surrounding continuity).

    We then look at the photograph presented to us for evidence around which we can construct our own narrative. The less captioning that accompanies the photo the greater the role of our own imagination – powered by what we know and by what we think we know of the world, and our place in the bigger scheme – plays in shaping what we think we are seeing.

    I think we are actually very sophisticated in our way of interpreting and experiencing the world. The problem is our sophistication can sometimes lead us to false conclusions. Whatwe need is not more visual sophistication and training in how to interpret photos but the opposite : deeper critical thinking and skepticism. Note that I wrote skepticism, not cynicism.

  3. I think I agree with Ellis’ comment, but I’m confused. The first paragraph mentions a photographer, but then there are a bunch of “they’s.” Who is he talking about, viewers? Then, it makes no sense.

    I disagree with Ellis’ last paragraph. Our viewers need more sophistication in reading a photograph. Being willing to accept not knowing what the story is is part of that sophistication.

Comments are closed for this article!