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Susan Sontag on Photography - Essay Example

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Susan Sontag on Photography

In all of her works, Sontag believed that the proliferation of photographic images had developed a worldwide recognition that photographs ought to be exact representations of reality. Thus, the essence of photography is pure reflection of reality. As such, every photographer must know, both technically and artistically, the proper way of capturing images in order to deliver a pure message about a phenomenon. In this paper, we intend to examine further some of Sontag’s critical teachings about photography by emphasizing on its purpose, the ideal relation between the photographer and his subject, and the key issues surrounding the practice of photography. After this, we deepen our understanding on the essence of photography by looking at one essential issue, that is, the problem of photo manipulation in modern photojournalism. In this part, we first study the trends in photographic manipulation to understand how the practices have been caused, either directly or indirectly, by technological and commercial innovations. After this, we discuss why and how photo manipulation is done. Such topics are to be discussed in relation to specific cases of photo manipulation in the mass media like newspapers and magazines. ...
A. Important Ideas: Susan Sontag’s On Photography Susan Sontag condemned photography by asserting that it only delivers images that are nothing more than shadows of reality. As she metaphorically strengthened this thesis, humans who view photographs are like trapped men in a cave who only see the shadows of the outside world. What they deem as ‘real’ are actually distorted reflections of reality. To arrive at a more meaningful discussion of On Photography, let us first delve into her definition of photography. To Sontag, to photograph is to appropriate to the thing being photographed. It is an act of non-intervention. Thus, there should be distance between the photographer and his subject. However, she believed that since photographs do not provide contextual stories about the world, they become miniatures of reality. The world, therefore, becomes a series of unrelated particles or phenomena, with no interconnectedness or continuity. But the capacity to imitate reality is not the only definitive characteristic of photography, for in the artistic activity of the photographer he is able to elevate his creations as pretentious works of art. As narrated by Bridget Brimer in her online article entitled Literary Interpretation and Analysis of Susan Sontag's Book, On Photography, Chapter 1: "In Plato's Cave", through the use of various skills in photography, the photographer is able to convert a phenomenon into an image that provides a transient experience to its intended audience. Thus, Sontag saw the act of photographing as symbolic shooting, or even raping. Sontag reckoned that photographing is like raping since the photographer sees his subject in a manner that is unavailable to himself (subject’s). He gains knowledge about ...Show more


Susan Sontag on Photography: Analyzing Photo Journalism In the Digital Age First Name Middle Initial Last Professor Susan Sontag on Photography: Analyzing Photojournalism in the Digital Age Introduction Susan Sontag wrote On Photography in 1977 as a collection of essays that appeared in the New York Review of Books from 1973 to 1977…
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Susan Sontag on Photography essay example
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