external “The Challenge of Photography” —Conscientious Photography Magazine

A photograph… is not necessarily a document or fact, and it’s certainly not “the truth” (whatever that term might mean). It is a truth, one truth out of many others, a personal truth: The photographer’s. To assume that this truth then automatically translates into a larger truth is foolish. It might, or it might not.

In photography circles and beyond, photographs are said to be lying. This, however, only reveals a general lack of understanding that is common even amongst many of photography’s practitioners, let alone those who merely engage with it as disinterested viewers. Photographs do not lie any more or less than paintings do, or ballet performances, or these words. As I already noted, they present a truth, whatever that truth might be.

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  • Hank

    Or a perception. Even if its actual light pixels, its still a perception by definition. It’s light reflecting off an object and being observed – subject to absolute limits (Heisenberg) but showing nothing but reflected light, nothing of an objects interior, little of its history, nor reflectiveness by other kinds of radiation or sonar. Photographers do understand that an image is pure perception – that which is said to be entirely mistaken in some sources (Buddhism, ACIM). That said, what do we, as photographers, do about it, knowing it’s not truth in any form, because truth is pure abstraction that is beyond the photographic. Then what are the more abstract forms of photography – a window into this, an opening into Mind that is created by the photograph? I would say so, and so all of photography is really this abstraction. Nothing of reality is made known, but the mind has a chance to see beyond the picture.