Does Photography enhance or limit our perception of reality?

Essay by emmeg23 April 2006

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In a world where our perception and understanding of the place in which we live is influenced by our surroundings and the way we view them, it is important that we look at all aspects of the matter from all viewpoints, both through the lens and with open eyes. In this case, I agree with Sontag in the fact that we can't learn about the world just from what the camera has captured, but disagree with her idea that photography is negative in the way that it allows for us to fill our minds and makes us feel.

Sontag says that "photography implies that what we know about the world if we accept it as the camera records it. (LI, P1)"A photographer takes a picture of a regular, old weapons factory; a simple picture. In reality, this is a picture of the Krupp, a manufacturing company in which assisted Nazi Germany in the persecution of nearly 11 million people.

Sontag is absolutely right. Photographs are deceiving, and "one never understands anything from a photograph (L6-7, P1)" How can we be persuaded to believe that Nazi Germany wasn't "all that bad," from a simple photograph? How can we rely on photography to be our outlet to the outside world? Pictures can be a nice to look at, and we can infer from them what we like, but the picture can't tell us what it is, it can't explain to us the symbolism or far-fetched meaning that lies behind it. This can not be the way in which we try to understand the world.

No, we can not learn anything about or understand the world from looking at a picture, but a picture never the less is art, which has the power to heal and help so many. There is no...