The Subject Is Not The Object


“A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” — Richard Avedon

“To photograph … turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed.” — Susan Sontag

Hard words in a way, and I can’t fully agree with Avedon or Sontag.  But I do feel that there’s some truth to the idea that a photograph of a person is NOT a representation of that person as much as it’s a representation of an idea.  The photograph is an object.  The person is distinct from that object.  Everything else is perception.

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One Comment

Peter Aikins

Though provoking quotes and comments Ed. I’ve often though about how the act of pressing the shutter is taking an instant of time and representing a moment that when frozen is perceived very differently to how our mind’s eye perceives reality: with our eyes flitting across a scene observing the elements of a scene, each observed in different moments of time. Our reality is more a montage of glimpses that make a total scene, whereas a picture allows us to observe everything that was at that exact moment. I think this may have a profound effect on how we perceive an image, compared to the reality.

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