Motivation/Medication/Anorexia – The Authenticity Of Photography -photography As An Act Of Violence – The Ownership Of A photo

  • My motivation has dropped
  • New medication is impacting upon motivation
  • Anorexia is now affecting energy and motivation
  • Making this and the last post has taken me several days to get motivated to produce.
  • Photography was originally understood as being a means of authentically documenting reality
  • This view reinforced by Barthes in Camera Lucida – photographing “what was there”
  • Photo Journalism and documentary photography are meant to be factual and not misleading.
  • My view “as photographers we always mislead and never represent the external authentically”
  • My view “as photographers we spend more time excluding the distraction of what was there”
  • My view “our photography is shaped by our life experiences, psychology and ideology”
  • My view “our personality influences exactly what we choose to exclude from any photo we make”
  • My view has been reinforced by reading Photography A Critical Introduction by Liz Wells
  • Liz Wells highlights the photo “Migrant Mother” by Dorathea Lange
  • “Migrant Mother” is shown next to the other four photos Lange took of the mother and her children that day. It’s clear why Lange chose this as her final selection.
  • The context added by the other photos would have eliminated the emotional impact.
  • This is photographers manipulation of fact in order to present a moral viewpoint.
  • Editor’s, curators and accompanying text bastardise this “authenticity” further.
  • Ariella Azoulay adds to this by demonstrating how the Israeli National newspapers use photography unrelated to the story to reinforce an anti Palestinian Agenda.
  • In The Civil Contract of Photography Azoulay posits the idea that no one has authorship/ownership of a photo, as the subject, photographer and viewer all bring their own unique understanding and agenda to the photo
  • Kathryn Ryan (Canadian comedian) stated during her interview by John Bishop (John Bishop In Conversation With) that her daughter is a unique individual and as her mother she has no right to publish photos of her daughter.
  • She doesn’t own her daughter and has no ownership of her image
  • To do so would be an act of aggression as there is no consent.
  • This view is supported by Susan Sontag “On Photography” and Ariella Azoulay.
  • Hearing Kathryn Ryan was the first time this viewpoint made any sense to me.
  • In other contexts to commit an act upon another person without their consent would be illegal.
  • Asking permission to take a photo, even using a model release form can never be informed consent as we no longer know where a photo will be reproduced or end up.

Its been useful to solidify these ideas that have been floating around my psyche, it’s not to say that I agree with them all, and even where I do I think there has to be a loud call for balance. The views I’ve highlighted are valid, but where do we draw the line? There are legal lines of course, and I believe there are humanitarian lines. Governments often break these humanitarian lines for the purposes of propaganda (it’s happened in the UK in relation to “illegal” immigrants (no human is illegal!!!)). However, as photographers we can only do what feels right to us, and that’s different for us all.

Interestingly, as I have experimented with street photography I have become more comfortable with others taking my photo whilst out and about.

I have way to many books to read.


13 Replies to “Motivation/Medication/Anorexia – The Authenticity Of Photography -photography As An Act Of Violence – The Ownership Of A photo”

  1. Sorry to hear you’ve not been feeling great. You still write a very thought-provoking post! I really reined photos of my children on social media as they reached late childhood. It no longer felt right to share images of them, even with just friends and family. Consent is a very thorny issue. I was in Cafe Rouge yesterday and there was an A4 notice up in one of the windows, only visible to two or three tables. It said that they regularly used professional photographers in the restaurant to produce promotional materials. By being in the restaurant, customers were consenting to these photos being taken!!! Very hazy consent and would not stand up to GDPR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s not good. I have seen signs like that, but most of them also inform people to speak with one of the staff if they don’t wish to be photographed.

      Farnborough airshow had the same warning as cafe rouge on their ticket buying page, it gave people the option of not buying a ticket if they weren’t happy.

      Legally you can photograph anyone that’s in a public space, and places such as cafe rouge are private spaces so they can set out their own rules.

      Thankyou for your comment about my post. At the moment I can do whatever I can manage at that moment in time.


  2. I hate when medication takes more away from us. I love reading all of your entries and your photography and thoughts on it are so wonderful. I totally agree with you. I hope you feel better soon

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Richard, I am really sorry that the medication is affecting your motivation. I have enjoyed reading your blog and this is a difficult subject. I do like one or two types of street photography and although I have occasionally done it I don’t think it is a genre I will pursue partly for a lot of the reasons you have identified here. I do hope you feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou Jonathan. My weekend has been more productive, which is a relief.

      I find street photography challenging for those same reasons, but I do hope that I can move to a place that feels more balanced. I value the creativity, depth and humour that good street photographers catch and convey, and I’d like to get to a place where I am comfortable with occasionally making street photography.


  4. It’s interesting how your views on photography can also apply to writing. How personality shows through writing, how I can exclude words or details depending on the purpose.

    I remember some years ago when I was at a bus stop in downtown, I looked up and I saw a photographer taking a photo in my direction. (I don’t know that I’ll ever be sure if he was taking my picture or not. He might have been taking a picture of something else near me.) Back then I was a bit angry/annoyed that he took my picture. Today, I’d give anything to see that picture, to see how the photographer saw me through that photo and in that period of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting how our views change.
      Thanks for pointing that out about writing. Maybe as humans a large part of our life, out of necessity is about elimination of distractions, and creating an internal/external favoured presentation.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you’re doing brilliantly to keep producing work and reflection at a time when you’e having to cope with this new medication and you’ve gathered together some really important points there Richard. Bullet-points can be a good way to get down the essence of something that you can always explain on subsequently if necessary.
    I can’t remember right at this moment, but have you written out your own ethical code on photography?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I’m sorry to hear this. Hopefully you’ll recover soon. Just remember the impermanence nature of the universe. How you are feeling now, you’re not going to be like that forever. Good days will come. Soon.
    Good luck! ✌🏻

    Liked by 2 people

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