The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is false. Pictures have no word value, which in a sense is why they exist, to portray what words cannot, similar to music. Like any art, photographs can portray anything and can be interpreted in nearly any way which is why I believe in the power of photography.
While I would not consider myself an avid photographer, I do on occasion borrow my mom’s camera and snap shots. Sometimes artsy, sometimes action, and sometimes personal; what is important to me though, is that not only that the image is being kept, but that the emotion can be captured in a good photograph.
When I first saw the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of four marines attempting to raise the flag, I was amazed not only by the method this was captured in ,but also by the sheer power the picture emitted. These men appeared barely alive amongst the ruble around them, and you get the image that all they have is themselves, each other, and the flag. In that one point in time, they all blend together into the perfect photograph. I saw it for the first time when I was about 10, but I can’t imagine the effect it must have had at the end of World War II.
While some times and put forth the effort to read a newspaper, most of the time I try to build a story based on the pictures I see. People are captured at their best and their worst, and the manipulation that can take place is absurd.
I recently viewed a photograph of a soldier crouching, with his gun slung over his shoulder with the soldier holding it. In the background a boy and his mother are crossing the street, but the angle of the photograph makes it appear as if the soldier is pointing his gun at the crying mother. However when reading comments made about the photograph, it became clear that the soldier could not have shot from his position and that the gun was not even pointing at the mother and child. The image has forced me to reconsider how I view photographs, especially those online, and has restricted my tendency to jump to conclusion without reviewing further research.
With each advancement in image technology, the power of photography is enhanced. The alteration or clarification of a few minor things in a picture can change the entire purpose and meaning of the initial picture.
Outside the news, photography is another world. I see the effort artist put forth in their paintings, and am a little jealous that I am unable to accomplish that feat. Yet I find comfort on the lakefront on a warm summer night, when the sky melts into a pink and orange array of beauty, and then I open National Geographic and can relive the moment from shores around the world. While photography is becoming less and less concrete, the opportunity for beauty is infinite as long as I am still willing to take pictures.
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