Understanding Visual Culture- Part 2- Barbarous Taste

Before we had to complete this exercise we had to read Pierre Bourdieu’s essay The Social Definition of Photography from our course reader.

We then had to look at a statement he made (as shown below) and answer questions.

“in conferring upon photography a guarantee of realism, society is merely confirming itself in the tautological certainty that an image of the real which is true to its representation of objectivity is really objective.”

What do you think this statement means?

I think what Bourdieu is trying to say in this statement is that people, at the time, tended to see photography as something that just imitated as opposed to an art form. This was probably down to the mechanical nature of photography and its social uses. The tautological aspect of photography is that it is seen as realistic as the photographer is taking a photograph of something real.

Do you agree with it and, if not, why?

I think that the statement is very cynical as he seems to overlook the various ways that photographers can manipulate photographs. Even in the early days of photography, photographers manipulated the camera so images could be appear more artistic (this is something we had looked at earlier in the course when reading “Photography versus Painting” by Osip Brik in the Art in Theory book). Photographers can manipulate images in various ways before and after a photograph is taken such as

  • varying the depth of field
  • aperture
  • shutter speed
  • lighting
  • viewpoints
  • framing
  • focal length
  • lenses
  • filters (both on the camera and Photoshop)
  • In camera settings (my camera has settings where you select only one colour to show while the rest of the image is black and white for example)

The list of ways is endless.

When photography was invented, the images would have appeared to be very real however since the digital age people now question all images taken, especially those in magazines and advertisements. Sadly nowadays, photography has become very questionable as to their depiction of reality with so many images of models and celebrities Photoshopped to make them appear perfect.

About kunsworthphotography

I am currently studying towards a BA (Hons) in Photography with OCA and I have 2 children, Evie(4 years old) and Connor(3 years old)
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