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Media, Empire, Photography (Following Up)

Once again, I want to open a thread so that anyone with thoughts about last night's lecture, history lab, or reading has a forum to share their thoughts. I found this chapter from Wexler's book to be really thought-provoking, as it asks us to think about the connections between the domestic imagery common at the turn of the century and the simultaneous emergence of an American overseas empire. Did anyone else enjoy the reading? Did anyone find it difficult? Did anyone disagree with Wexler?

And Wexler's argument opens up this larger question about how we can "read" photographs for clues about how people imagined their world in the past. Our lab focused on war photos, but I'd like to suggest that this exercise could be repeated for almost any photograph. Are there other photographic styles or themes you can think of that might reveal clues about the past? Is it too much to describe photographs as "created" given that they do, in fact, simply record light on silver particles (or pixels, today)? How else might we think about photographs historically?

Comments

I think that photographs focus in on important and meaningful parts of an issue that would not be as noticable without a photograph. For example, with war as a big issue photographed, when photographers focus on a bloody hand, a sad face, etc it is even more meaningful and personal to the audience. I guess my main thing is that photos zoom in on certain things that show lots of meaning.

I agree with the comment that photographs focus on certain things that will spark the most emotions. I feel like focusing on these emotions have a very powerful affect on populations. Look at 9/11 for example, there was nothing but firefighters and flags all over the media. What did this spark? Retribution, revenge, justice, all of these were main themes posted throughout most media. As soon as our government took action, new photos started appearing, presenting the theme that there are war-mongerers amonst the government. Media has a lot to do with this type of persuasion.

I think it's interesting to think about photography. There are the professionals photographers, and then there are the everyday photographers, and I'm sure there are some people in-between. Do we analyze photographs from professionals and everyday people in the same way. How do we know if everything in the picture was intended to be in the picture when it was taken. I think it is interesting that everyday people go through the decision process of which photographs to keep and who to show them too just as professionals do.