In our critical and contextual studies, we were asked to answer the question, “what is photography?”
There is no definite answer for this question, for photography is many things to many people. It is a means to keep a record of history. World events, family events and achievements – we love to document it as it happens. Photographs are powerful tools to invoke memories and emotions, and are often used for Alzheimer’s sufferers to help them remember things that their illness has made them forget.
People often dismiss “snapshot” photography, but even this has its place – while the meanings might be lost on us, the story behind it will stay with the one who took it. Looking at the image years later will bring back those memories and emotions as if it happened only yesterday. The power of imagery should never be underestimated.
Photographs tells a story; they are a means of communication. In my image above, it tells the viewer much more than I know how to say in words. It shows her not just her anger, but also the effects of it too.
We looked at this photograph by Platt D. Babbitt. Without any prior knowledge of this image, we deconstructed it to its core elements.
It’s a daguerreotype, which we know because of the encasement around the image. This places the image in the 1800’s.
The scene has flowing water, and given it’s misty effect and that it was from the 1800’s, we can deduce that it was a long exposure.
Only one figure can be seen in this image, a person in the middle of the water. If anybody else was in this scene, we can’t see them because they would have been moving – the figure in the water was still long enough for the film sensor to capture it.
Deconstructing an image in this way helps us to understand the story it is telling us, and also to understand more about the processes used.