Beyond the Camera's Glass

August 24, 2012
By Candace Sowle SILVER, Frisco, Texas
Candace Sowle SILVER, Frisco, Texas
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“This is an apple.” It’s one of the first lessons a child learns. The teacher pulls the whole class in a circle around her, showing pictures of objects and telling what they are. It’s an effective way to introduce these simple objects to a child’s mind. However, a picture of an apple is not an apple. The photo shows this child the color and shape, but nothing more. To truly understand what an apple is, one must hold an apple, smell an apple, and taste an apple. And so it is that during a human’s youngest and most impressionable time, the photograph limits our understanding of the world.
Since children begin learning from pictures, they grow up depending on them to explain the world around them. People see the picture, comment on the picture, and believe they have experienced the subject of that picture. But how can you truly experience something without seeing what’s beyond the corners of the frame? How can you understand a place without interacting with that which makes it unique; the culture, the atmosphere, and the people? A four edged image does not give the whole truth of its subject. One must use an unlimited supply of all five senses. When both a photo and its true subject are compared, a shocking discovery may be made.
Let’s look back in the 1940’s, during the height of World War II. The Aryan population lives their lives as they would any other day. For those with a curious mind, photos are shown of the Jews happily living among themselves in a hospitable ghetto. Suddenly, the war is over, and concentration camps are discovered by the Americans, who do what Hitler had never allowed. They brought the Aryans to those concentration camps where their fellow Germans lay rotting, and were forced to realize firsthand the horrors they had unknowingly allowed to go on. Some wondered why they were forced to see this malicious sight. The reason is quite simple and will forever be relevant. A picture of the camps will be seen only partly. The viewer will feel sad and wish they could have helped, and then go on with their daily life. However, when that same viewer is taken to the place where they had first felt temporarily saddened, they are suddenly permanently horrified at the truth of the circumstances.
In present time, the same truth applies. Someone is watching TV to relax, a sad commercial about starving children in Africa or abused animals plays, and right when the viewer begins to feel sad for these events, their show returns and they quickly forget any discomfort. Those spending that day trying to save these lives will never forget the tragedies that they are all too familiar with.
Some who see these commercials and actually stop to think will come to the conclusion that the photographer is only showing a few who are abnormally bad-off, and it doesn’t represent the true situation. But these same people all too quickly accept the beautiful world captured in a frame that they never question, when beyond that lens a beast is waiting. People so easily forget that every picture is that photographer’s opinion. It shows what they believe needs to be shared in a manner that suits them. The picture will never show the full story and very rarely leaves room for interpretation. The viewer only sees what the photographer allowed to be caught in their lens in a light of their choosing. Once the lens is taken away and the light turned on high, the image is forever changed.


The author's comments:
This piece is about the negative effects that photography has on our understanding of the world. While a temporary insight, it is also a limiting factor which keeps people from discovering the truth for themselves and creating their own judgements on the subject.

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This article has 1 comment.


on Apr. 15 2013 at 1:54 pm
iamawesomeK SILVER, Wilmington, Delaware
6 articles 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
I am sure I won't be able to fit that many quotes in here.

Its written very good. I could'e never thought of this. The passage about history is put in very cleverly. It is a great piece!


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