Do photographs reflect the motives why they were taken?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by MARTIE, Nov 12, 2006.

  1. MARTIE

    MARTIE Member

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    So, we're all photographers but we all motivated by many different things... lets say by both internal and external factors.

    So...

    Do photographs reflect the motives and reasons why they were taken?

    Do images fail when the internal and external factors collide?



    Martie
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 12, 2006
  2. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    yes, almost always
    no, not necessarily
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A photograph always says something about the person who made it, but it may not be what the photographer intended. The photographer may succeed or fail at communicating his or her intention, but that is a separate question from whether the photograph succeeds or fails to say something interesting.
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Usually

    Some times
     
  5. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    From the sense I got from the recent Salgado thread it could be concluded that the man made compassionate images, but was motivated by a more venal purpose, i.e. making a good deal of money from them. So, if that's the case, then, no, I don't think the motive is implicit in the image. If his "internal and external factors" were in conflict, it isn't apparent in either the images or their acceptance as 'truthful' documents, and damn fine photographs. But, who cares? There have been many instances of very, very base men who made very, very great art...Richard Wagner comes to mind immediately. To the extent that the digital vs analog debate comes down, for many, to the notion that the image is everything and the process is irrelevant, so it can be argued that the artist's work transcends his all too human frailties.
     
  6. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    1) Probably

    2) No..."Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
     
  7. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I think I can only answer this from the perspective of images I have taken and how others have responded or may respond in future because only I know what the internal and external factors were. In this context my answers would be:

    Do photographs reflect the motives and reasons why they were taken?
    Sometimes but not always. In the majority of cases the viewer would not be aware of the internal factors driving why I took a particular photo. There will invariably be some internal factor in every image that a viewer will never appreciate.

    Do images fail when the internal and external factors collide?
    No. An image fails if it fails to communicate. It will communicate differently to different viewers so it will fail for some and succeed magnificently for others. In same cases it may "fail" for all but the photographer!
     
  8. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I think images almost always reflect their context even when don't know what that context is. To reflect it is not necessarily to reveal it.
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    "Reflect the motives and reasons" - Yes, but "through a glass, darkly". The motives and reasons will have an effect on the image - but determining them from the result is rarely an easy task - even for the photographer producing the image.

    "Internal" and "External" factors collide? I don't see a "collision" here - not in the sense of one opposing the other to the point of destruction - and therefore "failure". Internal and external will MEET and the balance between the two will cause the image to come into being under the matting and within the frame - eventually. It MAY be that the energy in either is not sufficient to support "the making of an image", but that, to me, is not a "collision" situation.
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    An image once it emerges into the world is entirely its own entity. It has no knowledge of the motives or reasons why it was born. It just is. From that point you have the ability to like it or not like it. It doesn't care.

    A photograph cannot fail. A photographer can fail, but not a photograph.

    Michael
     
  11. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    No. It is quite possible to be taken in completely opposite context from what the photographer saw/meant. The Pulitzer Prize photo by Edie Adams in Viet Nam is a prime example.

    All depends on what the definition of failure is.
     
  12. MARTIE

    MARTIE Member

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    Thank you, for all of your insightful replies.

    Martie
     
  13. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    Do photographs reflect the motives and reasons why they were taken?

    Hard to say...guess it's how I 'see' something. Wanting others to 'see' what and how I perceive it. Maybe that's my 'motive'...showing that beauty comes in all sorts of packages. :wink:

    The Mechanic

    Do images fail when the internal and external factors collide?

    Sometimes it's that collision that makes brilliance...the anticipated and expected against the accidental.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 15, 2006
  14. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Do photographs reflect the motives and reasons why they were taken?

    I think one would first have to answer the question: When one puts a piece of art out to the public, does it retain the spirit of intent from the artist, or is it now free to be interpreted by the viewer?

    Only if we answer that could we say whether or not the motive remains.
     
  15. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Self-reflexivity is one thing that is always there, but if you put certain photos in a position that is totally out of context, I don't know how they will be viewed.
     
  16. robopro

    robopro Member

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    The answer to both questions is yes AND no, contradictory as that may seem. A photograph, like any work of art, does reflect what the artist intended. The real questions is do we see what the artist intended and did the artist him / herself understand what it was they were trying to say?
    I saw a painting once done by Adolf Hitler before he got into politics. It was a street scene in Paris, I think. No people, no life, no inspiration. Did it reflect what he 'intended'? Some would say yes, it reflected exactly what he intended, for the world. On the other side, can we really know what Van Gogh intended with his own art? I personally would say anyone who says they understand what Van Gogh intended thinks entirely too much of their own ego. We can appreciate Van Gogh, debate his art, discuss it, agree or disagree, but can we ever really know what was in his heart, soul, or mind when he painted anything he ever painted? No. And yet it is there, right in front of us if we could only see it...
     
  17. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Both questions must be answered "sometimes"

    Some artists have deliberately manipulated the answers, such as making photographs by anonymous tripwires etc. Some images have been much more 'successful' than intended -- for example, Dirk Halstead's snap of Bill Clinton hugging an intern.

    Photography has a tremendous capacity for confounding intent. That's part of its charm.