Chapter Title Chapter
#11Photography If your pictures aren’t
good enough, you aren’t
Robert Capa (Endre Ernő Friedmann) 1913–1954 PHOTOJOURNALIST
Once you see the forlorn face of Flor- ence Thompson, you will never forget her (Figure 11.1). With furrowed forehead, a faraway look, hand cupped to her chin in a gesture of uncertainty, two children shyly hiding their faces in the warmth of her shoulders, and an infant sleeping on her lap, the photograph is more than a simple portrait of a family. The image is reminiscent of the “Madonna and Child” religious icon known to millions because painters throughout the history of Christi- anity have captured it on canvas. But here in black and white is a real-life symbol for all parents struggling to survive and feed their families during the Great Depres- sion and for all uncertain economic times. “Migrant Mother” is probably the world’s most reproduced photograph in the his- tory of photography because it makes people care about this mother on a deep, personal level.
But it was a picture that almost was not taken.
Dorothea Nutzhorn was born in Hobo- ken, New Jersey, in 1895. When she was 12 years old she took her mother’s maiden name of Lange after her father left the family. As a child she suffered from polio that gave her a limp in her right leg for the rest of her life. Although she’d never held a camera, at 14 she wanted to be a photographer, because she said that her disability “gave her an almost telepathic connection with those who suffered.” After studying at Columbia University under the photographer Clarence White, she moved in 1918 to San Francisco, where she enjoyed the Bay Area’s bohe- mian lifestyle. She married the painter Maynard Dixon and had two sons. She supported her family through her studio photography business. By 1932, she had become an able portrait photographer
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with a reputation for capturing the personalities of the rich San Francisco matrons of the day.
News reports of the terrible living conditions of rural Americans prompted Lange to want to document their lives. The country was undergoing the worst drought in its history; dust storms blew away the once-fertile topsoil. The stock market crashed in 1929 and farm prices plummeted, throwing millions out of work. People lived from day to day, and thousands of farmers from the Midwest
Figure 11.1 “Migrant Mother,” 1936, by Dorothea Lange. The disturb- ing and touching story line of a woman alone with her children during the height of America’s Great Depression spurred many to help others. But is she posing or wish- ing the photographer would leave?
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and Great Plains who had lost their land and livelihoods took off in mattress- topped automobiles for the golden West. Lange obtained a job with the State of California to document agricultural labor conditions. She was teamed with social economist Dr. Paul Schuster Taylor, whom she later married.
After completion of the project, the head of the Resettlement Administra- tion (RA), Rexford Tugwell, reviewed her pictures in Washington and promptly hired her.
The RA, later renamed the Farm Secu- rity Administration (FSA), was an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. President Franklin D. Roosevelt created it to help relocate farmers to more fertile farmland, obtain massive subsidies to offset the low prices farmers were get- ting for their crops, and convince the American public that controversial social programs needed to be passed by the conservative Congress. Thus, the FSA was more of a propaganda wing that the government used to get New Deal legisla- tion through Congress than a direct aid to rural residents. Besides Lange, famous photographers who worked for the FSA were Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, and Marion Post Wolcott (Figure 11.2).
The FSA photographers produced an exhaustive document of rural and urban life in America during the 1930s and 1940s that has never been equaled. Newspapers and magazines used their pictures because they were free. However, in 1943 the FSA was eliminated and its employees transferred to the Office of War Information, which was ended in 1945. Nevertheless, the images succeeded in helping pass New Deal legislation and also inspired other photographers to fol- low in their documentary footsteps. More
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had passed. Finally, the image of the people she had briefly seen overpow- ered her desire to get home. She turned her car around and drove back to the camp. Lange retrieved her press camera, a portable version of the tripod-bound,
Figure 11.2 “Fleeing a Dust Storm,” 1936, by Arthur Rothstein. Okla- homa farmer Arthur Coble and his two sons weather a storm. During the Great Depression, the Farm Security Administration of the U.S. government produced numer- ous classic documents such as this Dust Bowl picture by Arthur Rothstein.
Figure 11.3 Photojournalists call the first picture taken at a scene a “cover shot.” If you are asked or are forced to leave, at least you have something. With the older girl avoiding the camera, the younger one smiling for the lens, and Flor- ence Thompson looking back at a daughter hiding behind her, this image is almost a snapshot—not a particularly telling moment.
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than 250,000 of their images are stored in the collection at the Library of Congress, and a copy of each one can be purchased at a nominal price.
But the image in the collection—the most revered and reproduced—is Lange’s “Migrant Mother.”
Tired, hungry, and anxious to get home after a month-long project taking pictures in central California, Lange drove her car north along the cold and wet Camino Real Highway (101) in early March 1936. Along the way she noted a migrant workers’ camp of about 2,500 people outside the small town of Nipomo. On the side of the road someone had placed a sign that sim- ply proclaimed, “Pea-Pickers Camp.” These sights were all too common, with poor people from all over the country forced to stop for lack of money and gasoline and earn a few dollars picking local crops.
For 30 minutes, Lange drove toward home and thought about the camp she
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large-format camera, and immediately found Florence Thompson sitting in the barely adequate shelter of an open tent with her daughters (Figure 11.3). With the crop destroyed by a freeze, there was no work at the camp. An engine chain had broken on their Model T Ford, so they were stuck. Thompson’s two sons, along with a man living with Thompson at the time, went to town to get the car fixed, leaving her to care for her daughters. She
Figure 11.4 Perched atop her 1933 Ford Model C four-door wagon, Dorothea Lange poses with a Graflex 4 × 5 Series D cam- era. She was driving this car when she spotted Florence Thompson and her family at the side of the road and used this camera for her famous photograph.
Figure 11.5 The book jacket of An Ameri- can Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion by Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor shows a typical sight along the roads during America’s Great Depression—a truck filled with household goods. With Lange’s pictures and Taylor’s words, the two documented the migration of many from ruined Dust Bowl farms to migrant worker camps out West.
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was pregnant with her sixth child. She would eventually have seven children.
In notes about the brief encounter, Lange later wrote, “Camped on the edge of a pea field where the crop had failed in a freeze. She said that she had been living on frozen vegetables from the sur- rounding fields and birds that the children had killed.” Lange did not ask her name or anything about her past history. She stayed ten minutes and made six expo- sures (Figure 11.4).
When she returned home, Lange made several prints and gave them to an edi- tor of the San Francisco News, where they were published under the headline, “FOOD RUSHED TO STARVING FARM COLONY.” Two of Lange’s photographs accompanied the story that detailed the situation of the migrants and the efforts of relief workers to bring food and cleanup crews to the camp. The famous close-up was not published. Because of the story and pictures, the camp residents received about 20,000 pounds of food from the government, but Thompson and her family had left before help arrived.
But back in Washington, the historical and social significance of the Thompson portrait were recognized immediately. The picture soon became an American classic with a life of its own. Newspapers across the country reproduced it. In 1941, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City exhibited it. When John Steinbeck saw the picture, it inspired him to write The Grapes of Wrath. Without question, the picture made Lange famous. And despite her later achievements as a staff photographer for Life magazine, her collaboration with Paul Taylor on their book An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion, and her docu- mentation of Japanese American internees during World War II, she is forever linked to it (Figure 11.5). Frustrated over that
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story was published about her situation. Readers who saw the story and remem- bered the emotional image were moved to send money to her—more than $15,000 ($33,500 today)—before she died. Many of the letters that contained money noted how the writers’ lives had been touched by Lange’s close-up portrait of the “Migrant Mother.”
In 1998, a print signed by Lange was sold for $244,500 ($328,000 today) at Sotheby’s auction house in New York to an anonymous collector who promptly sold it to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles for a higher undisclosed sum.
In a 2008 interview with a CNN reporter, Thompson’s daughter Kather- ine (the girl on her mother’s right shoul- der in the famous photograph) said that the “photograph’s fame made the family feel shame at their poverty.” And yet, on Florence Thompson’s gravestone at the Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson, California, about 250 miles north of Nipomo, it reads, “Migrant Mother—A Legend of the Strength of American Motherhood.” And in Nipomo, one of the major north–south streets that runs parallel with Highway 101 is named Thompson.
ANALYSIS OF “MIGRANT MOTHER”
Any great work of art always has many stories to tell. There is the story of the sub- jects within the frame, why and how it was created, and what happened after it was made public. But one of the most impor- tant stories any visual message tells is the one the viewer makes up. The way you interpret an image is the story of your life.
Even a casual glance at “Migrant Mother” reveals without question an
fact, she once complained that she was not a “one-picture photographer.” In 1965, Lange died at the age of 70 after a long and event-filled life made possible by her photographic skills and her sensitivity to the important moments in everyday life.
But Florence Thompson’s life didn’t change for the better after the picture was published.
Born to poverty in rural Oklahoma in 1903, her father died when she was a baby. When she was 18 she married Cleo Owens, a logger. Finding little work in their home state, they moved to California in 1922 to work in the sawmills. By 1929 the couple had five children. After Owens lost his job, they moved from field to field to pick peaches until he caught a fever and died at the age of 32. She moved with her children from town to town seeking help from her family, went back home to Oklahoma for a brief time, and returned to California to continue the farm-picking migrant life, traveling from camp to camp.
When she first saw it in print, she didn’t like the image and tried to get it sup- pressed. When that effort failed, she tried to get Lange and/or the government to pay her for being in the picture. In 1979, 44 years after the picture was taken and 14 years after the death of Dorothea Lange, Thompson was finally identified as the woman in the famous photograph after she wrote a letter to the Sacramento Bee and was still bitter about the fact that the photograph made Dorothea Lange famous but didn’t improve her life. In a newspaper article that followed, Thompson, living in a mobile home in Modesto, California, complained to a reporter, “That’s my pic- ture hanging all over the world, and I can’t get a penny out of it.” In 1983, Thompson suffered from colon cancer and couldn’t pay her medical bills. Family members alerted the local newspaper and a national
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emotionally charged, sad moment in a woman’s life. Much of the picture’s power comes from its obvious symbolic link to religious paintings. But where the Madonna icon is a positive affirmation of future possibilities for her child, the Thompson portrait is an anti-Madonna icon filled with uncertainty about the future for herself and her children (Figure 11.6).
With a normal perspective, medium- sized lens opening for limited focus, medium shutter speed to avoid camera blur, black and white film to avoid any distractions color might provide, and a 4-by-5-inch negative for maximum resolu- tion, the picture demonstrates the highest quality possible using the gelatin dry plate photographic process in combination with a large format, portable press camera.
Legally, Dorothea Lange did all that was required. Her job as a visual reporter was to record Thompson’s image on film and give prints to a newspaper for publication, not to help Thompson and her family
directly. But what is strictly legal and what is ethical do not always absolve a person’s moral responsibility to help someone in a more direct way. Lange should have at least asked Thompson’s name. The public learned her name only after newspa- per accounts published her complaints about the image. Lange was one year younger than Thompson, and under dif- ferent circumstances, they might have had much to say to each other. But Lange was anxious to get home and stayed for a short time. Realistically, however, given the differences in their cultures based on their economic situations alone, commu- nication between them would have been difficult.
Another controversial aspect of the photograph was the way it was manipu- lated in two different ways. In a later version of the print, part of a hand and a thumb holding a tent flap was airbrushed from the image (Figure 11.7). But more significantly, the picture was a stage-man- aged setup by Lange. This fact should not be surprising given Lange’s roots as a portrait photographer. Linda Gordon in the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Always a portraitist, she never sought to capture her subjects unaware, as a photojournalist might.”
When one studies the images of Thompson and her family members in the order they were taken, the collaboration between Lange and the children is espe- cially marked by an obvious degree of stage managing. The initial image shows 14-year- old Viola sitting glumly on a rocking chair inside the tent. Daughter Katherine smiles at the camera while Thompson holds baby Norma and looks behind her for Ruby who hides behind her back. The next picture is a formal and stiff portrait of the family group. Viola is now in front of the lean- to tent sitting awkwardly on the rocker.
Figure 11.6 “Madonna dell Granduca,” c. 1505, oil on wood, by Raf- faello Sanzio. Known simply as Raphael, the High Renais- sance Italian painter shared the era with Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Typical of the times, he was orphaned at an early age but through an uncle found apprenticeship work where he learned his craft. Best known for his religious works, many of his paintings can be found at the Vatican. He died on his birthday at the age of 37 after having exuberant sex with his mistress. Many have compared Lange’s “Migrant Mother” with Raphael’s Madonna and Child because of the downward, worried gaze of the mother in the painting.
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Figure 11.7 Compare the lower-right corner of this original version of “Migrant Mother” with the retouched photograph that starts this chapter and you will notice the distracting thumb that is probably her eldest daughter Viola’s as she holds the tent flap out of the way. The retouched, darkened thumb is a picture manipula- tion that was common in the day.
Figure 11.8 In this formal portrait of the family group, the older Viola strikes a model’s pose as she sits awkwardly on the cane rocking chair as (from left) Ruby, coaxed from behind her mother and wearing a wool cap, Katherine, Florence, and baby Norma are inside the lean-to tent. Lange is now obviously stage-managing this situation, an ethical viola- tion for documentary and news photographs by today’s standards.
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away to avoid the distraction of their faces. Although such overt manipulations of a news photograph would be discouraged today and could get a photojournalist fired, the ethics of that time were different.
Inside the tent Ruby, who wears a wool cap, has been coaxed to join the others for a picture (Figure 11.8). As an experienced image maker, Lange knew that a family portrait with an older girl would not be an emotionally powerful image, so for the next three pictures, Lange moved in close to concentrate on Thompson with her small children. In one, she nurses the baby (Figure 11.9). In another, Ruby rests her chin on her mother’s shoulder without her knit cap (Figure 11.10). In the third Ruby leans her head more comfortably on the shoulder while grasping the tent pole. With its vertical view that includes the crude camp-life necessities of a kerosene lamp, a tin plate, a suitcase used as a table, a wed- ding ring, and a view of the barren ground beyond the tent, this image is a strong document of the Dust Bowl and further demonstrates Lange’s photographic artistry (Figure 11.11). Finally, the famous portrait is a close-up of Lange looking into the dis- tance with the two children told to turn
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Lange and Thompson came from dif- ferent worlds with no common bond except being at the same place at the same time. The camera became the basis for their relationship that lasted a little longer than the shutter was open. For Thompson the person, not Thompson the public icon, the image revealed a weary numbness in which she was prob- ably too polite or helpless to refuse being photographed. But she was saying “no” in the photograph the only way she could. She looked off as if wishing this “city girl” would move on and leave her alone. The image forever stereotyped Florence Thompson as a homeless matriarch who could survive only with contributions from the public. Never mind that she had worked hard to feed and clothe her fam- ily as best she could, given the country’s and her family’s economic hard times. That is why she was probably upset that the picture was published. As such, “Migrant Mother” is a study not only of Great Depression photography but also a commentary on the ethics of manipu- lation and the right to privacy of those pictured.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE SIX PERSPECTIVES
Photography runs the gamut from sim- ple, amateur snapshots to enormously expensive professional enterprises. Artists use images to express their inner emo- tions, commercial photographers to sell products and ideas, visual journalists to illustrate the lives of those in the news, and scientists to make an unseen world visible. With equipment that ranges from less than ten dollars to several thousand dollars, photographers take and preserve millions of images every year. The great Irish playwright and humorist Bernard Shaw, himself an amateur photographer, once said about the medium, “I would willingly exchange every single paint- ing of Christ for one snapshot.” Such a sentiment speaks directly to the power of photography. An image is considered truthful and believable—so much so that it is used as evidence in courts of law. Time will tell if the notion of “seeing is believing” remains for the medium in the digital era.
Figure 11.9 (top left) Wisely, Dorothea Lange quit taking overall portraits and moved in closer to concen- trate on Florence Thompson. Although much richer in content than the famous portrait, with the breast- feeding baby, kerosene lamp, and wedding ring, this photograph does not have the same emotional quality as “Migrant Mother.” Notice that the edge of the canvas tent flap hangs parallel with the wooden pole.
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Figure 11.10 (top right) Dorothea Lange moves in a little closer. Five-year-old Ruby unnaturally rests her chin on her mother’s shoul- der, is not wearing her wool cap, and the tent flap has been pulled back, probably by Viola. All of this stage managing was no doubt suggested by Lange.
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Figure 11.11 If “Migrant Mother” had never been created, this photograph would have been revered as a powerful portrait of migrant life, with probably as much attention given to it as its famous cousin. Florence looks just as forlorn as in “Migrant Mother” and little Ruby now seems more comfortable with one hand on her moth- er’s shoulder as she grasps the pole with the other, but this image also contains more information with the addition of the simple metal plate and worn trunk used as a table and the outside, forbidding farm field beyond the tent’s inadequate shelter.
Figure 11.12 Although inexpensive cam- eras with automatic expo- sure and focus capabilities do not produce professional quality images, they make photography a fun and popular hobby for millions of persons. A tourist (the author’s mother) in New York City captures a mem- ory from her hotel window.
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(Figure 11.12). Not surprisingly, most victims of catastrophic events caused by wind, water, or fire report that after the secured safety of their loved ones, what they most regret and wish could have been preserved from their destroyed houses were their precious photographs.
After learning how to use paint on fin- gers, a pencil, and a brush, many children are introduced to a simple point-and- shoot camera, often their first contact with the image-making process using a machine. Although their first attempts may be out of focus, blurred, off-center, or incorrectly exposed, they are never- theless awed by the magic of capturing light and seeing it on a computer screen. Part of the joy of photography is that high-quality pictures can be taken with relative ease—the machine itself is easy to master.
Moments captured by amateur pho- tographers are a combination of space and time that often are prized possessions preserved in ornate frames and leather- bound albums. Pictures give evidence of a trip once taken, a car long since sold, and a baby who is now a grown woman. We use photographs not simply to show others where we have been, what we possess, or whom we have loved, but to remind ourselves of those important events, things, and people in our lives
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The camera predates the photographic process by at least 1,000 years. Aristotle wrote about the phenomenon of light that produces an upside-down view of the outside world through a pinhole in one wall of a darkened chamber, called a cam- era obscura. From what is now Iraq, Abu Ali Hasan Ibn al-Hayitham, or simply al Hazen to his Western friends, was the first to use the principle to watch an eclipse of the sun inside a tent in the year 1000 to solidify his ideas about the speed of light and the fact that light travels in straight lines for his scientific work Book of Optics published in 1021 (Figure 11.13). Artists used the camera obscura as a tool to trace rough sketches of natural scenes on paper or canvas, to be filled in later with paint. In the 2003 motion picture Girl with a Pearl Earring, the artist Jan Vermeer shows
the maid, Griet, how to see images with the device. The camera obscura device led to the idea of using photosensitive materi- als in place of a canvas (Figure 11.14).
Throughout the history of photogra- phy, nine main photographic processes have preserved the views captured through the camera obscura: the heliograph, the daguerreotype, calotype, wet-collodion, color emulsions, gelatin- bromide dry plate, holography, instant, and digital (Figure 11.15).
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce has been called the founder of photography because he produced the first permanent photo- graph, which can still be viewed. Born to rich and well-educated parents in 1765 in the town of Chalon-Sur-Saône, France, about 350 kilometers southeast of Paris, he became interested in the many
Figure 11.13 Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al- Haytham or al Hazen is the figure on an Iraqi ten-dinar bank note (worth about one U.S. penny) in 1982. Born in Basra in 965 ce, his scien- tific achievements include significant contributions to astronomy, medicine, and visual perception. He is considered the founder of modern optics.
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Figure 11.15 (right) As this 19th-century wood- cut shows, before light meters were invented, pho- tographers looked to the sky to gauge the intensity of the sun during an exposure.
Figure 11.16 “View from the Window at Le Gras,” heliograph, c. 1826, by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. For photography to become a successful medium for vis- ual communication, inven- tors needed to use light- recording materials within a camera that (1) could produce a sharp image, (2) stop fast action, (3) could be easily reproduced, and (4) was simple to operate. With this heliograph, considered the first photographic image produced by the French inventor, none of those con- ditions were met.Co
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and amateur inventor who used Niépce’s basic work to produce the first practical photographic process.
Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre was born in 1789 in Cormeilles, France, just north of Paris. He became famous in that city for his dioramas, illusionary pictorial effects with painted backdrops and lighting changes. An optician who supplied lenses
scientific and technological discoveries of the day. At the age of 51, Niépce began work that eventually led to the photo- graphic process. In an attempt to improve upon the recently-invented lithographic process for making printing plates, he discovered that bitumen of Judea (a type of asphalt) hardened when exposed to the sun. After the soft, unexposed parts of the picture were washed away, the result was a positive image. Niépce placed his asphalt emulsion on a pewter plate within a crudely constructed camera obscura and produced the world’s first photo- graph—the view outside his home—in 1826 (Figure 11.16). It was the first and only photograph that Niépce ever made. The image now is a part of the Gernsheim photography collection at the University of Texas. The faint picture is encased within a Plexiglas frame where xenon gas protects it from deterioration.
Niépce named his process heliography (Greek for “writing with the sun”). The process never attracted much public attention because the exposure time required was about eight hours, the image was extremely grainy in appearance, it appeared to be out of focus, and the pub- lic never learned of the procedure until many years after Niépce’s death. Never- theless, the process did attract the atten- tion of Louis Daguerre, a theatrical artist
Figure 11.14 (left) This replica of the tabletop camera obscura used by the inventor William Henry Fox Talbot was built for the Science Museum (London). Similar to a photographic camera, an artist would look through the viewfinder at the top, focus the image by sliding the lens in front back and forth, and make a drawing on thin tissue paper. Little wonder inven- tors thought of this device as a way of preserving images through chemical means.
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for Niépce’s camera obscura told Daguerre about the heliographs. At the age of 64, in ill health and in serious financial difficul- ties, Niépce reluctantly signed a contract with Daguerre to share information about the heliographic process. In 1833, Joseph Niépce died before seeing the results from Daguerre’s experiments, but his son Isidore maintained the partnership. Daguerre switched from pewter to a copper plate
and used mercury vapor to speed the exposure time. These technical changes resulted in a one-of-a-kind, reversed image as if seen in a mirror, of extraordi- nary sharpness (Figures 11.17 and 11.18). Daguerre modestly named the first practi- cal photographic process the daguerreo- type (Greek for “Picture by Daguerre”).
On January 7, 1839, the French astrono- mer Arago formally announced Daguerre’s invention to the prestigious Academy of Science. Upon seeing the wondrous exam- ples, the American physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. dubbed the reversed daguerreotype image a “mirror with a memory,” while John Ruskin wrote in a letter to his father in 1845, “Daguerreo- types taken by this vivid sunlight are glori- ous things. It is very nearly the same thing as carrying off a palace itself—every chip of stone and stain is there.” The French gov- ernment paid Louis Daguerre and Isidore Niépce an annual pension in return for making the process available to the public.
The precious, positive, one-of-a-kind portraits were an instant hit because com- mon people could finally afford to have a
Figure 11.17 The incredible sharpness of the daguerreotype proc- ess is evident in this image taken by an unknown photographer before 1851. The view shows retail stores and homes of Portsmouth Square in San Francisco. The area is now known as the “Heart of Chinatown.”
Figure 11.18 Born in Massachusetts in 1791, Samuel Finley Breese Morse was an accomplished painter most famous for his invention of the telegraph and his dot-dash code. In 1830 he traveled to Europe to study painting where in Paris he met Louis Daguerre, the co- inventor of the daguerreotype. Morse helped spark its devel- opment in America by estab- lishing one of the first studios in New York and taught Mat- thew Brady, among others, the process. The one-of-a-kind special quality of the image is indicated by the elaborate frame and case.
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Figure 11.19 Cover of The Pencil of Nature, 1844, by William Henry Fox Talbot, the first book printed with photo- graphs.
picture made of themselves. Before, only the wealthy could afford to hire an artist to paint a picture, which is why museums are mostly filled with images of the rich. Daguerreotypes were often displayed within elegantly crafted miniature boxes made of papier-mâché, leather, or highly finished wood. Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the dot-dash code used in telegraphy, opened the first photographic studio in New York City and taught many entrepre- neurs, including the famous photographer Mathew Brady, the process. With a faster chemical process, a larger lens that let in more light, and a smaller plate size, expo- sure times were reduced to 30 seconds.
The new process needed a name other than a derivative of Daguerre. England’s Sir John Herschel coined the word photogra- phy for the new light-sensitive process, from the Greek words that mean “writing with light.” However, the process, as stunning as it was, had two significant drawbacks—it produced a positive image that couldn’t be reproduced, and depending on lighting conditions, exposures were too long for fast action.
Coincidentally, a different photographic process was announced the same month as the daguerreotype. Sometimes referred to as the talbotype, the calotype (Greek for “beautiful picture”) was invented by William Henry Fox Talbot. The process is the foundation for modern photography.
Talbot was born in Dorset, England, in 1800. After being educated at Trinity Col- lege in Cambridge, he devoted the next 50 years of his life to studying physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, and archaeology. In 1833, while vacationing in Italy, he came to the conclusion that images from a camera obscura could be
preserved using light-sensitive paper. After several experiments upon his return home in August 1835, he produced a one-inch- square paper negative of a window of his house. He then produced a positive pic- ture by placing another sheet of sensitized paper on top of the negative image and exposing it to the sun. The exposure time was about three minutes in bright sunlight. Talbot continued to produce many views of his estate, which were later collected in the first book illustrated with photographs, The Pencil of Nature, published from 1844 to 1846 (Figure 11.19). The work was pub- lished without binding to subscribers who were meant to collect all 24 plates and pay to have the pages bound. But due to a lack of interest from the public, only six plates were created (Figure 11.20). The calotype process never became widespread because of two reasons—its quality when com- pared with daguerreotypes, and Talbot’s insistence on making the process available
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collodion in 1847 solved that problem. A mixture of guncotton or nitrocellulose dissolved in alcohol and ether, collodion was used to protect wounds from infec- tion. When poured on any surface, it forms a tough film. Archer mixed collo- dion with light-sensitive silver nitrate.
His wet-collodion process produced glass negatives of amazing detail and subtlety of tone that could be used to make hundreds of positive prints. The exposure time was a remarkable 10 sec- onds. Although the process required that the glass plate be exposed while moist and developed immediately, serious por- trait and documentary photographers around the world used the wet-collodion process for the next 30 years. Most of the photographs taken during the Ameri- can Civil War, for example, utilized the wet- collodion process. However, with the long exposure times, only before and after battle scenes could be captured (Figure 11.21). This era also saw the intro- duction of several processes that were popular with the public such as inexpen- sive wet-collodion tintypes (images on metal plates), ambrotypes (images on paper), and albumen prints, a process that used egg whites to bind the photographic emulsion to paper, which was usually used to print small calling cards that were handed out between friends and business associates called carte de visites.
Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell is credited with producing the first color slide. In a lecture to the Royal Institu- tion in London in 1861, he admitted that his work was influenced by Thomas Young’s discoveries about the eye’s color perception. Maxwell made three separate pictures of a ribbon through red, green,
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Figure 11.20 “Plate VI—The Open Door,” 1844, by William Henry Fox Talbot. What Talbot wrote about the picture is also a call for being more observant generally: “This is one of the trifling efforts of [photogra- phy’s] infancy, which some partial friends have been kind enough to commend. A painter’s eye will often be arrested where ordinary peo- ple see nothing remarkable. A casual gleam of sunshine, or a shadow thrown across his path, a time withered oak, or a moss covered stone may awaken a train of thoughts and feelings, and picturesque imaginings.” With Talbot’s calotype process, photogra- phy satisfied one other con- dition for its popularity—a negative image that could easily reproduce any number of positive prints, but the pictures weren’t as sharp as daguerreotypes.
only to those who paid for the formula. Because a positive image had to print through the paper fibers of the negative view, Talbot’s pictures never achieved the sharp focus of daguerreotypes. Further- more, unlike the daguerreotype process that was released by the French govern- ment, Talbot charged interested parties a large sum to learn the secret of the calotype. Consequently, few took him up on his offer. Nevertheless, the process represents the first instance in which the modern terms negative and positive were used. Once a negative image was created, any number of positive prints could be made. This concept is the basis for modern photography and encouraged economic development of the medium until it was replaced by digital photography.
In March 1851, the year Louis Daguerre died, Frederick Scott Archer published his formula for all to read in a popular jour- nal of the day, The Chemist. Archer was a British sculptor and part-time calotype photographer. He had grown weary of the poor quality of prints obtained from using paper negatives. He suggested glass as a suitable medium for photographic emulsion. The problem with glass, how- ever, was in making the emulsion adhere to its surface. However, the invention of
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n Figure 11.22 “Tartan Ribbon,” 1861, by Thomas Sutton. The Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell had Thomas Sutton pho- tograph a Scottish “tartan” ribbon three times, each time with a different color filter over the lens. Ironically for Maxwell, who identified the electromagnetic spectrum, the photographic emulsion used for the picture was not sensitive to the red wave- length. However, the red dye of the day used in the ribbon fluorescently created the “red” color for the film. See color insert following page 338.
colored potato starch grains randomly throughout a photographic emulsion. Although the film was quite expensive for the day, photographers immediately favored autochrome because of the qual- ity of the images produced.
Gelatin-Bromide Dry Plate
Dr. Richard Maddox of London was an amateur scientist who helped change the face of photography and sparked motion pictures. A medical doctor and amateur
Figure 11.21 “Battle-field of Gettysburg— Dead Confederate sharp- shooter at foot of Little Round Top,” 1863, by Timothy H. O’Sullivan. Since the famed photographer Mathew Brady was practically blind by the time of the American Civil War, he hired several photog- raphers to take photographs for him. One of those was Timothy O’Sullivan, who made this silent study of a young sniper’s body using Frederick Archer’s wet-col- lodion process. Now, the pho- tographic medium had two conditions met—sharp images that were reproducible.
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and blue colored filters. When he pro- jected the three separate images with the colored light from each filter at the same time and aligned the views, a color slide was the result (Figure 11.22).
But because of the impracticality of Maxwell’s discovery, attention soon focused on color print materials. In 1903, Auguste and Louis Lumière, important figures in the history of motion pictures, started selling their autochrome photo- graphic plates to the public. The Lumière brothers mixed red, green, and blue
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scientist and photographer, he was look- ing for a substitute for collodion as a pho- tography emulsion. After experimenting with a number of sticky substances, he tried gelatin, an organic material obtained from the bones, skins, and hooves of ani- mals. The result was a light-sensitive emul- sion with silver bromide that could be manufactured, stored, and exposed much later by a photographer, unlike the wet- collodion process that had to be taken with the emulsion damp and developed immediately.
With his invention, photography was advanced to a point at which it could truly be a successful mass medium. It now had exposure times that could stop fast action, sharply focused images, and a neg- ative that could produce any number of positive prints. Maddox’s discovery led to the invention of motion picture film after
Figure 11.23 Frank Church made one of the first snapshots in the history of photography. It shows George Eastman hold- ing his invention—a Kodak camera—that made amateur photography possible. Now the photographic process was complete with sharp images, fast shutter speeds, easily reproducible images, and so simple a child can be a photographer.
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the American Thomas Edison saw stop- motion images of animals and persons as discussed in Chapter 12.
His photographic process also started the amateur photography craze after an innovation by an American inven- tor. George Eastman of Rochester, New York, invented cameras that used gelatin dry plate films in long rolls. In 1888, he introduced his $25 Kodak camera (in today’s dollars, the camera would cost about $500). Kodak simply was an eas- ily pronounced and remembered name that he invented (Figure 11.23). With the motto “You push the button—we do the rest,” the camera came loaded with 100 exposures. After taking all the pictures, a customer mailed the camera back to Rochester where the round negatives were printed. The camera was reloaded with film and sent back. By 1900, Eastman was
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selling his enormously popular cameras for one dollar each ($20 today).
In 1947, Hungarian scientist Dennis Gabor developed holography to improve the sharpness of views obtained with an elec- tron microscope. The unique aspect of holographic images is that they reproduce a three-dimensional view of an object pho- tographed on one sheet of film. Russian researcher Yuri Denisyuk created a slightly different process that is used today to dis- play logos on credit cards, unique jewelry and art presentations, novelty stickers for children, and for publications (Figure 11.24). One of the first mass-produced holographic displays was a picture of an eagle for the March 1984 cover of National Geographic, which featured stories on holography, China, Calgary, Canada, and the rhinoceros. In 2009 an opening bid for the issue was set at $2.99.
Edwin Land was a prolific American inventor with more than 500 patents to his name. In 1948, he introduced his most famous invention—the black-and-white Polaroid 50-second film camera. Instant photography was born. About 15 years later he announced a color version, calling it Polacolor. Once popular with married couples on their honeymoons and with artists and other professional photogra- phers, the process has been replaced by digital cameras (Figure 11.25). However, artists such as William Wegman have used large-format, 20 × 24-inch cameras to produce fine-quality, one-of-a-kind Polaroid portraits. Another such artist is Stephanie Schneider, who manipulates the colors with heat and pressure to produce
Figure 11.24 A holographic image, such as this one from the Massa- chusetts Institute of Technol- ogy (MIT) Museum, when printed in a textbook will not reproduce the engaging three-dimensional effect when viewed on an acetate sheet from a single light source.
Figure 11.25 Polaroid photographs were once the process of choice for recording weddings and subsequent honeymoons such as these from a wed- ding and reception taken on a beach near San Francisco in 1989. These one-of-a-kind images should remind you of the early daguerreotype pictures—they are in sharp focus, but not easily copied.
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striking results. The Australian musi- cian Sia Furler used about 2,500 Polaroid images in an animation style for the pro- duction of a video for her song, “Breathe Me,” in 2004 (Weblink 11.1).
In 1981, Sony introduced its electronic still video camera, the Mavica (Magnetic Video Camera). Its two-inch disc could record only 50 color images, which were viewed on a television screen. As such, the camera was not technically a digital camera because it recorded an electronic video signal. Nevertheless, the camera started the era of digital photography, with all the major camera companies pro- ducing true digital models. After an expo- sure, photographers can use a program such as Photoshop and make exposure,
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color balance, and cropping adjustments, just as in a traditional darkroom. The computer images can then be sent to anyone in the world via a cell phone or a wireless connection.
It shouldn’t be surprising that a camera’s parts and functions are similar to those of the eye. Knowledge of the physical workings of the eye directly helped in the camera’s development. The essential elements of a camera are housed within a protective box; the eye is protected by an outgrowth of the skull. A visual art- ist often uses a drop of solution to clean the glass elements of the lens of dust and smudges; the eye has a built-in lens-clean- ing system with its salty tears. The shutter regulates the amount of time a computer chip is exposed to light; the eyelids open and shut so that vision is possible. The aperture is an opening that lets light enter
the camera; the pupils with their compan- ion muscles perform the same function for the eye. The lens focuses the outside image to a point at the back of the eye or the camera’s dark chamber. In photogra- phy, a sheet of thin, light-sensitive emul- sion or an electronic process records the picture. Photoreceptors in the back of the eye process the light rays. Photographers manipulate and print their images in a darkroom or on a computer; humans pro- cess their images within the visual cortex region of the brain.
Specifically, you should be aware of five main technical considerations when ana- lyzing your own or someone else’s image: lens type, lens opening, shutter speed, lighting, and image quality.
Lenses come in three variations: wide- angle, normal, and telephoto. As their names imply, a wide-angle lens gives a viewer an expansive, scene-setting view. The visual array photographed also has great depth of field—more is in focus. A normal lens mimics the angle of view as seen by the human eyes and is seldom used by professionals. A telephoto lens produces a close-up, narrow perspective of a scene with the foreground and back- ground compressed. It also has a shallow depth of field with little in focus. If a photographer wants a viewer to see many details at once, a wide-angle lens is pre- ferred over a telephoto (Figure 11.26).
The opening of a lens is like the pupil in the eye—it regulates the amount of light that enters the camera. If you squint your eyelids, your pupils get smaller and more will be in focus. The same is true for a Cou
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Figure 11.26 “Firebomb Damaged Sale,” 1981. Life and sales go on in Belfast, Northern Ireland, despite violent actions from terrorist organizations. A wide-angle lens is used not only to show as much infor- mation along the edges of the frame as possible but also to give a viewer the illusion of being in the scene.
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typically use shutter speeds of 1/500th of a second and faster (Figure 11.29).
Photography exists because of light. Knowledge of how lighting is used by photographers is essential in the analy- sis of an image. There are two kinds
lens. A small opening or aperture will pro- duce an image with much a greater depth of field, whereas a large lens opening will have a shallow depth of field. Like the choice of the type of lens, a photographer can select elements of a scene she wants a viewer to notice by the choice of lens opening (Figures 11.27 and 11.28).
The amount of time a camera’s shut- ter stays open—its shutter speed—can greatly affect a picture’s content. A speed of 1/30th of a second or longer will usu- ally cause blurring of anything that moves. A faster shutter speed will stop motion and is required to overcome shaking of the camera during exposure (referred to as camera blur). An important feature of many modern cameras is motion stabi- lizer technology that produces a sharp image during longer shutter speeds and/ or jarring conditions such as on a motor- boat. An extremely fast shutter speed is necessary to photograph fast-moving sub- jects without blur. Sports photographers
Figures 11.27 and 11.28 “Vinton Cemetery #1, Califor- nia,” and “Vinton Cemetery #2, California,” 2002, by Gerry Davey. With a small aperture setting on a camera’s lens, objects close in the fore- ground as well as those in the distance are in focus. How- ever, if a large aperture set- ting is chosen, a photographer can chose what to emphasize within a picture’s frame by controlling focus.
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of lighting: lighting that comes from available sources and lighting that the photographer brings to a location. Natu- ral lighting, most often called available light, is illumination that already exists within a scene. Although its name implies light from the sun, it can also refer to incandescent bulbs, neon light tubes, or fire from a candle. Lighting equipment that a photographer brings to a photog- raphy shoot or that is contained within a studio is called artificial lighting. The most commonly used artificial light for location work is the electronic flash.
Learning how to evaluate the quality of an image in terms of its exposure and contrast is important. A picture that will reproduce well in a publication or
for a web page must have a full range of tones supplied by proper exposure and contrast. As a general rule, a pic- ture is considered properly exposed if it shows detail in the shadow areas and in the light areas. Contrast is defined as the difference between the black and white tones of the image. A low con- trast image has little differences in light and dark areas; a high contrast picture has extreme differences (Figure 11.30). With color correcting software within a program such as Photoshop, a photogra- pher can make most images, even those poorly exposed, acceptable for viewing. For web presentations a pixel-per-inch, or dots-per-inch (DPI), resolution of 72 with GIF, JPG, or PNG picture formats is fine. For printed work, however, a DPI of 300 or greater saved as a TIF file is preferred.
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Figure 11.29 An example of the stopping quality of a camera’s shutter is provided by this picture of a young boy seeking relief from the 100-degree heat in Del Rio, Texas. Note how the mesquite tree in the back- ground seems to cradle the boy in space.
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showed their viewers the full extent of the war with gruesome depictions and wondered why their Western media coun- terparts were sanitizing the violence. The difference may be one of editorial intent.
The executive director of “NBC Nightly News” explained, “You watch some Arab
Visual communicators must be aware of five major ethical concerns whenever images are used. Two of those concerns— visual persuasion and stereotypes—have been discussed. The three other main eth- ical issues are showing victims of violence, violating rights to privacy, and picture manipulations.
Victims of Violence
After the publication or broadcast of a controversial image that shows, for exam- ple, either dead or grieving victims of vio- lence, people often make telephone calls and write letters attacking the photogra- pher as being tasteless and adding to the anguish of those involved. And yet, vio- lence and tragedy are staples of American journalism because readers have always been morbidly attracted to gruesome stories and photographs. It is as if viewers want to know that tragic circumstances exist but don’t want to face the uncom- fortable details (Figure 11.31).
During the war in Iraq that began in March 2003, about 500 journalists were “embedded” with military troops dur- ing the initial stage of the conflict. What resulted was an unprecedented access to fighting areas. Editors were faced with tough choices. Many of the images taken by photojournalists showed bloodied combatants and civilians—victims of the ravages of war. In a New York Times article, for example, a picture submitted to Time magazine was described as “the bloodied head of a dead Iraqi with an American soldier standing tall in the background.” And yet, few images of corpses were ever shown to American print readers or tele- vision or web viewers. Arab and other news agencies around the world, however,
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Figure 11.30 With a selected exposure that creates a high contrast between the dark shadows and the sunlit wall, the diago- nal lines and outline shape of the wild parrot are empha- sized.
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Figure 11.31 The front page of the Bakers- field Californian is a study in contrasts. Mickey Mouse and Edward Romero’s grieving family share the front page. A reader firestorm of 500 letters to the editor, 400 telephone calls, 80 subscription cancel- lations, and one bomb threat resulted. Many readers prob- ably were sparked to protest publication of the picture because of its insensitive dis- play near the popular cartoon character.
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coverage and you get a sense that there is a blood bath at the hand of the U.S. mili- tary. That is not my take on it.” The dif- ference may also be a judgment call based on the taste for such images by readers and viewers. The managing editor of Time, James Kelly, admitted, “You don’t want to give the reader a sanitized war, but there has to be some judgment and taste.”
Susan Sontag, author of Regarding the Pain of Others, took a skeptical view when she stated, “I am always suspicious when institutions talk about good taste. Taste belongs to individuals.” Taste—the presumed appetite of viewers to stomach gruesome and/or controversial images—is a matter of etiquette, not ethics. The news media should report what a govern- ment does in its people’s name. Some- times that means grisly images must be a part of those reports. As Ted Koppel, then of ABC’s “Nightline” said, “The fact that people get killed in a war is precisely what people need to be reminded of.”
Although against the Geneva Conven- tions, prisoners are also tortured during
wartime—whether during a declared war or the so-called “War Against Terrorism” waged by the United States and other countries. But it is rare to see visual evi- dence of such abuse. The chilling images of the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2003 and 2004 with many that were hooded, naked, and forced to simu- late sexual acts by military personnel was appalling and shameful to most everyone who saw them (Figure 11.32). In this age of high quality and relatively inexpen- sive digital cameras and camera phones, battlefield images taken by the soldiers themselves will no doubt reveal other horrors of war to which seasoned photo- journalists will not have access. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Pentagon has banned digital cameras—including camera phones—from U.S. Army bases in Iraq. In 2009 President Obama reversed an earlier decision to release photographs “depicting alleged abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers” for fear it might “further inflame anti- American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.” However, newspaper editorials and the American Civil Liberties Union make the point that the images are part of the historical record and should be made public. Regardless of the outcome that will be decided by the court system, the controversy shows how images more than words are highly emotional objects.
Gruesome images closer to home can have a longer impact on viewers. Reporter Charlie LeDuff of The Detroit News received a telephone call telling him that there was a body “encased in ice, except his legs, which are sticking out like pop- sicle sticks” within an elevator shaft of an abandoned warehouse. Wanting to make sure of the facts before he called police, he investigated and found the gruesome scene. The resulting story and published image shocked the citizens of Detroit and Cou
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Figure 11.32 Images of tortured victims taken with digital cameras and shared via CDs and e-mails by U.S. military per- sonnel stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 were eventually released to the public and shocked the world. Most of these gruesome pictures were not printed in newspapers, but can be easily found on the web.
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videos of returning war dead at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware in 1991. It was said that the policy was made out of respect for the families’ privacy. But when Russ Kick of “The Memory Hole” website was given 288 images of war dead from Afghanistan and Iraq after filing a Freedom of Information Act request, he posted the images on his website (Weblink 11.3). Many newspapers around the country published an image from the collection on their front pages (Figure 11.33). John Molino, a deputy undersecre- tary of defense, explained that the photo- graphs, taken by military photographers for historical purposes, were censored because “we don’t want the remains of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention that is unwarranted or undignified.” However, a Boston Globe editor said, “I don’t know how [the pub- lishing of the images] can be disrespectful to the families. They are official photos of flag-draped coffins being treated with respect by military personnel.” In 2009 during the Obama Administration, the Pentagon changed its policy and allowed families of the war dead to decide
the nation. LeDuff’s report illustrated that hard economic times, with over 20,000 persons homeless, sometimes caused cal- lous behavior that should be prevented whenever possible. A month after the gruesome find, the body was identified as a homeless man named Johnnie Redding. LeDuff described his sad life and burial in subsequent stories (Weblink 11.2).
Print and broadcast journalists have a duty to report the news as objectively, fairly, and accurately as possible. Editors and producers should be mindful that some images, because of their emotional content, have the potential to upset many people. However, decisions should be guided, never ruled, by readers and view- ers. One solution attempted by some media organizations is to show contro- versial pictures on a website with a strong disclaimer. That way a user can decide whether or not she wants to click on the link and see the image.
A Right to Privacy
Florence Thompson looked away from Dorothea Lange’s camera lens in the famous “Migrant Mother” photograph because that was the only way she thought she could protect her privacy. When subjects of news events and their families, through no fault of their own, are suddenly thrust into the harsh light of public scrutiny, they often complain bit- terly, as Thompson did the rest of her life.
Many readers of newspaper and maga- zine special editions recoiled in horror at the images of people falling from the World Trade Center twin towers. Some of the com- plaints from viewers were made because it was thought family members might be able to recognize the person falling.
U.S. military officials banned pho- tojournalists from taking pictures and Cou
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Figure 11.33 Flag-draped coffins line the inside of a military transport plane as soldiers honor the dead by standing at atten- tion and saluting. From World War II on, government officials have often censored photographs of those killed in combat from the public on the grounds that they violate the privacy of the soldiers and their families, but more often than not, such images honor those who have fallen rather than exploit them.
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Since the birth of photography, photog- raphers have manipulated subjects and images to produce the result they desired. Hippolyte Bayard was the French inventor of a unique photographic process who did not receive the attention or pension of Louis Daguerre. In protest, he faked his own death in an 1839 photograph. It is the first example of a manipulated image in the history of photography (Figure 11.34). Roger Fenton, one of the most respected war photographers in history, moved cannonballs during the Crimean War in 1855 to make his “Valley of the Shadow of Death” image more harrowing. Coming from a painting tradition in which subjects and compositions were regularly manipu- lated, the Swiss Oscar Rejlander in 1857 produced a good versus evil tableau called “The Two Ways of Life” using at least 30 separate pictures within the composition (Figure 11.35). Before the invention of the halftone process, skillful engravers regu- larly altered the content of photographs. For example, artists regularly added and subtracted subjects portrayed in photo- graphs for their printed engravings of the American Civil War. A curious artistic pro- cess common in newspaper photographs from the turn of the 20th century until as late as the 1970s was the heavy retouching of news images. Retouchers with paints, inks, airbrushes, and scissors “would remove backgrounds to make stark silhou- ettes or add additional elements, including cut-in vignettes or cutaway diagrams of events.”
Critics get most upset when images intended for documentary and news pur- poses are altered for aesthetic reasons. The wake-up call for many was a 1982 cover story on Egypt in National Geo- graphic. A pyramid in Giza was moved
whether to invite the media to their reunion with their loved ones in a casket. The return of the flag-draped coffin con- taining the body of 30-year-old Air Force Staff Sergeant Phillip Myers of Hopeville, Virginia, was the first fallen soldier cov- ered by the media under the new policy.
The judicial system in America has recognized that private and public per- sons have different legal rights in terms of privacy. Privacy laws are much stricter in protecting private citizens not involved in a news story than they are for public celebrities who often invite media atten- tion. As many as 60 paparazzi (if it’s Britney Spears or Paris Hilton) regularly stake out the places where celebrities shop and go clubbing on a 24/7 basis. The general public often justifies such extreme behavior because of the intense interest in the celebrities. Tabloid magazines, tele- vision shows, and websites pay as much as $100,000 for an exclusive picture that shows a private moment of a troubled star. Although photographers need to be aware of the laws concerning privacy and trespass, ethical behavior should not be guided by what is strictly legal.
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Figure 11.34 “Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man,” 1840, by Hippolyte Bayard. The French inventor Hippolyte Bayard created the first practical photographic process that predated the daguerreotype, had the first public exhibition of photo- graphs, made the first self- portrait, and created the first manipulated picture in the history of medium. Frustrated by not receiving recognition from the French government that Daguerre and Niépce enjoyed, Bayard staged a photograph with a caption that read, “The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard. The Government which has been only too gen- erous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself.”
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by computer software to accommodate the vertical format (Weblink 11.4). Read- ers who had been to Egypt immediately contacted the magazine to question how the image could have been produced. As a result, the director of photography at the time was forced to resign, and all of the images and words within the maga- zine were subject to question. You may purchase this famous cover on eBay for a starting bid of $9.99.
The police mug shot of O.J. Simpson arrested for the murder of his wife and her friend in 1994 was used for the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines the same week (Weblink 11.5). The Time cover was criticized for illustrator Matt Mahurin’s darkening of O.J.’s facial features, which some said was a slap at all African Ameri- cans, and yet Newsweek was never criti- cized for the manipulation of the words on the cover, “A Trail of Blood.” Brian Walski of the Los Angeles Times was fired for a photo composite he created while a photojournalist covering the war in Iraq (Weblink 11.6). No doubt fatigue, tough conditions, and competition were factors responsible for him combining parts of
two images into a third. However, there is no good reason for such an ethical lapse. Credibility is a precious commodity that should be protected with as much fervor as can be mustered.
But there is little credibility with some types of photography. Wedding and por- trait photographers remove unwanted warts and wrinkles from their subjects. Advertising art directors customarily combine parts of pictures, change col- ors, and create fantasy images to attract customers. Most persons are well aware of such practices and knowingly suspend disbelief when looking at portrait and advertising images. Still, examples such as a Newsweek cover photograph of Martha Stewart’s smiling face just after she was let out of prison sitting on top someone else’s body, a portrait of CBS News anchor Katie Couric with a digitally slimmed waist, and tennis player Andy Roddick with computer-enhanced arms on the cover of Men’s Fitness, all help to degrade the photographic medium’s credibility as a whole. Ironically, during the 2008 presi- dential campaign, many criticized a close- up portrait of Governor Sarah Palin on
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Figure 11.35 One of the first images to be manipulated by a photogra- pher was Oscar Rejlander’s “Two Ways of Life.” He spliced 30 separate pictures together to form the composite. Gambling, drinking, sexual activity, and vanity are the themes to the young boy’s right, and pious behavior, education, philan- thropy, and hard work are pre- sented on the other side.
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the cover of Newsweek because it wasn’t touched-up.
The story of photography, as with any other medium, is never simply about the technical contributions made by scientists and inventors to improve the process. Technological advances allow photogra- phers to communicate the cultural values of the time, but a photographer’s style is formed by the culture in which the pictures are made. Studying the images produced within a certain time period is a study of the society from which they come. Throughout the history of photog- raphy, various photographic styles have reflected the people and the times.
Photographer as Portraitist
One of the earliest uses of the photo- graphic medium was to capture the faces of people, both famous and ordinary.
Eventually, photography became a great equalizer. Because long exposure times and bright sunlight were required for early photography, Victorian portrait subjects appear to be grim, unsmiling people. In reality, they had to keep still in order to get the best picture possible.
In the 19th century, several photogra- phers created a photographic style that reflected the culture of the times. Scottish calotype photographers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson made sensitive studies of ordinary people. Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the few women in visual communication history, made dynamic images of her famous friends: Alfred Tennyson, Sir John Herschel, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Darwin, Robert Brown- ing, and Henry Longfellow (Figure 11.36). Gaspard Felix Tournachon, or Nadar, as he was known, matched his bold shoot- ing style with the strong personalities of the day. Before he photographed the Civil War, Mathew Brady had portrait galler- ies in New York and Washington. Brady is credited for the daguerreotype image of President Lincoln that appears on the redesigned five-dollar bill that was first issued in 2008 (Figure 11.37).
The portrait tradition continued with August Sander’s portraits of everyday Ger- man citizens before World War II, Diane Arbus’s direct and sensitive portraits of extraordinary subjects, Irving Penn’s series of everyday workers, Richard Avedon’s large-format images of known and unknown Americans, and Philip-Lorca Di Corcia’s “Heads,” portraits of random pedestrians at Times Square, New York. A standout in this genre is Annie Leibovitz, who made the sensitive portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken for Roll- ing Stone early on the day of the Beatle’s death, the naked and pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair, and Cou
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Figure 11.36 “Sir John Herschel,” 1867, by Julia Margaret Cameron. One of the most respected individuals in the history of photography is the British astronomer and scientist Sir John Herschel. He not only discovered a way to make photographic images so they wouldn’t eventually fade if exposed to light, he also invented the cyanotype pho- tographic process later called “blueprints” used by the English botanist Anna Atkins and in architecture, created the first picture on glass, and came up with the terms “snapshot,” “negative,” “posi- tive,” and most importantly, the word “photography,” Greek for “writing with light.” Julia Margaret Cameron, born in India, took up photography when she was 48 years old. She eventually made portraits of many of the most impor- tant figures in the worlds of literature and science at that time.
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views with their awkward wet-collodion technology. In 1873, O’Sullivan made one of his most famous pictures at the ruins of “White House” at the Cañon de Chelle in Arizona (Figure 11.40). The power of photography to shape the opinion of oth- ers is demonstrated by these views of the land. The images became synonymous with what people thought of as natural and beautiful. Jackson, who lived to be 99 years old, made the first photographs of the Yellowstone area in 1871, which helped convince Congress to set aside the land as the country’s first national park because the land was viewed, within the photographs, as naturally beautiful. Fol- lowing in the footsteps of the early land- scape photographers, Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, and Harry Callahan all have made photographs that record exquisitely nature’s beauty and sharpen our sense of wonder of it. Contemporary New York photographer Paul Raphaelson captures hauntingly beautiful post-apocalyptic urban landscapes (Weblink 11.8).
Queen Elizabeth II during her state visit to Virginia (Weblink 11.7). Another is the relative newcomer Suzanne Opton, whose close-up portraits of American soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have been shown in print, on websites, and on public billboards (Figure 11.38).
Photographer as Painter
Many painters feared that photography would soon replace their profession. To hedge their bets, some artists became photographers who mimicked the style of allegorical painters to tell a story with photographs in the tradition of paint- ings of the day. Two photographers who worked in this style during the 19th century were Oscar Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson. Rejlander’s “The Two Ways of Life” was discussed earlier. Robinson’s most famous image, “Fading Away,” is a combination print using five separate pictures to show a young woman on her deathbed. Other photographers thought that the new medium should have its own style distinct and apart from that of painting. A photographic school known as “straight photography,” headed by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, shunned manipulated work. Contem- porary photographers Vicky Alexander, Richard Prince, and Mike and Doug Starn use “cut-and-paste” techniques to pro- duce elaborate artistic renderings from their own or previously published pictures (Figure 11.39).
Photographer as Landscape Documentarian
Photographers have always enjoyed tak- ing pictures of natural scenes. When the American Civil War ended, Timothy O’Sullivan and William Jackson traveled west to explore and photograph scenic
Figure 11.37 “Abraham Lincoln,” daguerreo- type (reversed), 1864, by Mathew Brady. Born in upstate New York, Mathew Brady moved to New York City when he was 18 years old and learned the daguerreotype process from the American inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse, who had his own studio. Three years later Brady opened his own studio, and by the time of the American Civil War he was the most famous pho- tographer of his day. Despite reservations from friends, Brady hired and outfitted more than 20 photographers, including Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan, to document the battles of the Civil War; Brady took credit for their photographic work. He spent more than $100,000 of his own money (equivalent to about $2.4 million today) and never recouped his investment. Depressed over his financial situation and the death of his wife, he died penniless in the charity ward of a New York hospital after being struck by a streetcar in 1896.
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Photographer as Artist
Many traditional artists have looked down on photography, thinking it a simple craft. Another problem artists had with photography was that any number of images could be made from a single negative. Therefore, acceptance of pho- tography as a fine art on the same level as painting was slow in coming. One of the most important figures in elevat- ing the medium to a fine art was the American Alfred Stieglitz (Figure 11.41).
Not only did he exploit photography’s unique technological features, he also opened a gallery that exhibited painting and photography on an equal footing and published a critical journal about photography, Camera Work. Married to artist Georgia O’Keeffe, he was a strong proponent of modern art photography and inspired many photographers to build that tradition. Recent photographers who view photography as a way of expressing a deeply personal statement include Lucien Clerque, Yasumasa Morimura, and Sandy
Figure 11.38 “Birkholz—353 Days in Iraq, 205 Days in Afghanistan,” 2007, by Suzanne Opton. For her “Soldier” series, Suzanne Opton photographed nine American soldiers who were between tours in Iraq and Afghanistan stationed at Fort Drum, New York. Of her series, Opton says, “We all experi- ence strategic moments when we feel most alive. These are the moments we will always remember, be they transcend- ent or horrific. After all, what are we if not our collection of memories? In making these portraits of soldiers, I simply wanted to look in the face of someone who’d seen some- thing unforgettable.”
Figure 11.39 “Attracted to Light 1,” toned silver prints on Thai mul- berry paper, 4 × 7.3 yards, 1996–2002, by Doug and Mike Starn. The size of this com- posite piece might evoke the Japanese science fiction classic Mothra (1961), the first of the Godzilla monster genre of movies, metaphors for the use of weapons of mass destruc- tion. At once aesthetically pleasing with subtle tones, tex- tual intricacies, and a gestalt sensibility, it is also slightly menacing as you become hyp- notized by the insect’s inces- sant stare. See color insert following page 338.
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Figure 11.40 Stereocard of “Ancient Ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, New Mexico,” 1873, by Timothy O’Sullivan. Born in New York City, Timothy O’Sullivan was a teenager when he was hired by Mathew Brady to work in his studio. After fighting in the Civil War as a Union Army officer and honorably discharged, he joined Brady’s team of photographers to doc- ument war participants and the aftermath of battles. One of his most powerful images is the eerily disturbing “The Harvest of Death,” taken after the battle at Gettysburg, Penn- sylvania, as seen in Figure 8.14. Perhaps disgusted by the death and destruction, after the war O’Sullivan joined several expe- ditions exploring the western United States and Panama. But after an expedition’s boat capsized while exploring the Colorado River, he lost most of his 300 glass negatives. How- ever, the image of the majestic Native American ruins pre- cariously set within a canyon’s wall survived. Nine years after he made the photograph, O’Sullivan died of tuberculosis at the age of 42.
Skoglund. In a reversal of the process, Marc Trujillo makes large paintings that feature a street corner with gas a station, workers in a fast food drive-in restaurant, and passersby in a shopping mall that look like color photographs (Figure 11.42).
Photographer as Social Documentarian
Because images have the capacity to spark interest and convey emotional mes- sages, many photographers have used the medium to shed light on social problems in the hope of getting the public to act. In 1877, John Thompson teamed with writer Adolphe Smith for a book about London’s poor, Victorian London Street Life. News- paper reporter-turned-photographer Jacob Riis used photography to illustrate his writings and lectures on the slums in New York City (Figure 11.43). In 1890, he published his work in a book, How the Other Half Lives. In 1909, Lewis Wickes Hine managed to help enact child labor laws with his sensitive portraits of children working in dangerous, backbreaking occu- pations around the country (Figure 11.44).
Following in their tradition, French photographers Eugene Atget in the 1920s, a social documentarian with a view camera, and Henri Cartier-Bresson in the 1930s, with a small, handheld camera, showed views of ordinary people. Cartier-Bresson captured the “decisive moment”—a term he used to describe the instant when content and composi- tion are at their most revealing.
The FSA photographers documented living conditions of homeless people for the U.S. government during the Great Depression. Photographers for Life maga- zine, most notably W. Eugene Smith, produced photographic stories that illustrated the lives of diverse individu- als. Mary Ellen Mark, James Nachtwey, Eugene Richards, and Sebastião Salgado are photojournalists who continue in Smith’s documentary style tradition. Greg Constantine is an independent photojournalist who travels the world documenting displaced persons, and his images are used by such groups as Doc- tors Without Borders and the United Nations Refugee Agency (Figure 11.45; Weblink 11.9).
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Figure 11.41 “A Bit of Venice,” 1894, by Alfred Stieglitz. One of the most important figures in the history of photography as a practitioner, editor, and advocate, Alfred Stieglitz elevated the medium into a respected fine art form. Born in New York to upper-mid- dle-class parents, he studied mechanical engineering in Germany where he happened to enroll in a chemistry class taught by the photographer and inventor Hermann Vogel. Intrigued with the medium, Stieglitz entered and won several competitions. He later promoted photography through two publications, Camera Notes and Camera Work, the Photo-Secession pictorial art movement, and his galleries “291” and “An American Place.” Taken while on his honeymoon with his first wife, whom he left in 1923 to marry the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, who was known for her erotic paintings of flowers, “A Bit of Venice” reveals the ethereal and transformative power of photographs over paintings after you realize that this cor- ner of the canalled city actu- ally existed in the real world.
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Photography was invented at the height of the Industrial Revolution, during which millions of people around the world even- tually had more money and free time to spend taking pictures. Photography, with its emphasis on realistic scenes, freed art- ists to be more expressive. Impressionism and surrealism, for example, flourished because painters no longer had to render natural scenes exactly on canvas.
Photography educated people about social problems within their own commu- nities and among native peoples around the world. Visual messages inspired immigrants to learn to read words after pictures hooked them into buying a news- paper. But photography also was used to mislead and misinform. Government agencies in both totalitarian and demo- cratic countries used photography to
persuade citizens to adopt a desired point of view.
Photographs entertain and educate. They provide a historical record that relies on the idea that a camera does not lie. Throughout the history of photography, the picture enjoyed far greater credibility than the printed or spoken word. But computer operators who can alter the content of a digitized news picture as eas- ily as an advertising image are undermin- ing the picture’s credibility.
TRENDS TO WATCH FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
Photography is undergoing exciting and challenging changes. This era in its history is not unlike the time when the wet-col- lodion process was replaced by the gelatin bromide dry plate. Of the nine major advances in the technological history of photography, only four have significantly changed the way people think about the medium. The daguerreotype introduced the world to the medium. The wet-col- lodion process proved that photography could be a high-quality and reproducible method of communicating visual mes- sages to large numbers of people. The gelatin-bromide dry plate process made photography easy for both amateurs and professionals. Finally, digital photography, which combines the medium with the computer, promises unlimited possibili- ties for visual communicators. As more of us view photographs on monitors, paper prints are less important. Home comput- ers contain collections of images that can be easily shared through wireless connec- tions. Viewers can share their precious pictures with anyone anywhere in the world.
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Figure 11.42 “6800 Hayvenhurst Avenue,” oil on canvas, 2008, by Marc Trujillo. Although photography is not used in his artistic proc- ess, Marc Trujillo’s paintings of drive-thru restaurants, big box stores, and shopping malls dis- play a photographic presence combined with an Edward Hopper unease. See color insert following page 338.
Figure 11.43 “Bandit’s Roost,” New York City, 1888, by Richard Hoe Lawrence. Social reformer Jacob Riis was not a trained photographer, so he often hired them to accompany him on his nightly journeys through New York’s seedy underworld. He used the pic- tures in his lectures and for his book, How the Other Half Lives. One of the most famous photographs that he took credit for, “Bandit’s Roost,” was actually taken by Richard Hoe Lawrence. Taken in an alley off Mulberry Street, today located within New York’s Chinatown district, a menacing and accommodating street gang poses for the photograph. The lines of laundry in the background were a favorite of Riis who wrote, “The true line to be drawn between pauper- ism and honest poverty is the clothesline. With it begins the effort to be clean that is the first and best evidence of a desire to be honest.”Co
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Still cameras may be replaced by digital camcorders that enable the recording of still and moving images with the same quality. If a viewer wants to see a single frame from a recording, the equipment satisfies that option with simply the press of a key or utterance of a word or two. But the stilled moment will always be a vital component of mass commu- nication messages because there is no way to escape its underlying power. As Carina Chocano, a critic for the Los Ange- les Times, wrote, “Video may dominate the visible world, but still photography trumps it when it comes to administering electric jolts to the imagination.”
Examples of the need for still images are easy to find in both the art and docu- mentary worlds. For example, director Steven Soderbergh’s trailer for his 2005 motion picture Bubble was a tribute to still photography, with spooky images taken within a doll factory (Weblink 11.10). David Crawford (Weblink 11.11) takes hundreds of still images of persons riding subways throughout the world and then creates stop-motion studies. When seen on a computer, the effect is a moving, still
image. A commercial for the Olympus PEN camera used a stop-motion animation technique with about 10,000 photographs that told the story of a man’s life in an intriguing and compelling visual array (Weblink 11.12). Artists who use the stop- motion technique with still photographs present their work on YouTube.com. Noah Kalina took one picture of himself
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Figure 11.44 “Newsboys Selling on Brooklyn Bridge, 3 a.m.,” 1908, by Lewis Wickes Hine. The American sociologist Lewis Hine encour- aged his students at New York’s Ethical Culture School to use photographs to document the immigrants arriving daily into the city. After he tried it himself, he devoted the rest of his life to documentary photography. Working for the National Child Labor Committee, he made thousands of pictures of children suffering under long hours in dangerous situations throughout the United States so that the images could be used as evidence to persuade members of Congress to enact child labor laws. He also documented the efforts of the Red Cross in America and in Europe, the construction of the Empire State Building, and served as the chief photogra- pher with the government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), which concentrated on how work affects workers.
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Figure 11.45 “Bihari woman,” by Greg Con- stantine. During Pakistani rule, the Bihari were a prosperous and privileged community, but after a civil war in East Pakistan resulted in the birth of Bangladesh, they were fired from government jobs and lost ownership of their land. Since 1971 more than 300,000 live in 66 refugee camps where they are exploited, harassed, and unwanted.
every day starting in 2000 and continues to add to the collection the first day of every month (Figure 11.46; Weblink 11.13), “madandcrazychild” took a photo of her- self every day for 200 days (Weblink 11.14), and in a parody of the genre, “Phil” took a picture of himself every day for two days (Weblink 11.15).
One still image project didn’t require a camera. A flash mob called “Improv Everywhere,” comprising more than 200 individuals, dispersed randomly within the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station in New York City (Weblink 11.16). At the same moment they all stood perfectly still for five minutes. Commuters and tourists were obviously intrigued by the stunt and gave a round of applause when the frozen players started moving again.
For documentary presentations, Brian Storm (Weblink 11.17) maintains one of the premiere websites to see the work of still photographers within multimedia presentations that also include voice- overs, sound, music, and interactive navi- gation features. With a master’s degree in photojournalism from the prestigious University of Missouri and experiences as the former director of multimedia for MSNBC.com and vice president of News, Multimedia & Assignment Services for the picture agency Corbis, Storm runs a mul- timedia production studio, MediaStorm, that presents stories created by journal- ists throughout the world. He also trains professionals and academics how to make
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Figure 11.46 “Everyday,” detail, 2009, by Noah Kalina. New York based Noah Kalina is primarily an advertising photographer with clients that include Motorola, Sony, and Neiman Marcus, but he possesses an artist’s inde- pendent spirit. On January 11, 2000, he started to photograph his face every day, a project that continues. A video of the collection was a YouTube favorite and inspired many imitators.
Figure 11.47 “Intended Consequences by Jonathan Torgovnik,” 2009. The MediaStorm interactive mul- timedia website is a showcase of the best photojournalism can offer with text, audio, and video presentations. “Intended Consequences” records the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda war between the native tribes of Hutu and Tutsis that resulted in more than 800,000 persons killed. It is estimated that 20,000 children were born from rapes of women perpetrated by soldiers. There was also a rampant spread of HIV/AIDS. Women survivors tell their stories in words and pictures on the website.
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their own multimedia programs. Its “Crisis Guide: Darfur” produced for the Coun- cil on Foreign Relations and “Kingsley’s Crossing” by Olivier Jobard won Emmy Awards. Other stories tell of the lives of
women raped in Rwanda in 1994, drug addicts in a New York City apartment, and the lives of Kurdish people in north- ern Iraq— stories you rarely can find on paper (Figure 11.47).
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Regardless of how still and moving images are combined and presented, the stilled moment will always be important. A moving image shocks, illuminates, and entertains, but it is fleeting, quickly replaced by another picture. A stilled image, one that freezes time forever in a powerfully arresting moment, will always have the capacity to rivet a viewer’s atten- tion so that long-term analysis is possible.
• Abu Ghraib • Airbrush • Allegorical
• American Civil Liberties Union
• Bitumen of Judea • Collodion • Contrast • Crop • Darkroom • Depth of field • Dioramas • Doctors Without
Borders • Dust Bowl • eBay • Electromagnetic
spectrum • Emulsion • Flash • Flash mob • Geneva Conventions • Gelatin
• GIF • Grain • Impressionism • Industrial Revolution • JPG • Large-format
camera • Life magazine • Lithography • Paparazzi • Plate • Polio • Silver bromide • Silver nitrate • Surrealism • TIF • Visual cortex • Visual journalists
To locate active URLs for the weblinks mentioned in this chapter, please go to the compan- ion site at http://communication.wadsworth.com/lester5 and select the proper chapter.
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