In the book, on photography, Susan uses Plato’s cave to describe the role photography plays in our contemporary society. In the allegory of Plato’s cave, Prisoners have no choice but to watch the shadows of people and animals outside. They can also hear their voices but cannot see anything but shadows on the wall of the activities happening outside. They do not have any communication or have any idea of how the world outlooks. In case these prisoners are released, they would look at the world from a different perspective. They will see and feel the real world from their eyes. Susan uses this metaphor to describe photography as the difference in lighting from the direct sunlight outside and the reflection of that light inside the cave. She uses direct sunlight and shadows to show the difference between photos and reality. From the readings, it is clear that the visuals perception of humans’ beings is crucial.
Photography plays a very vital role in how people perceive the world. It has become the pivot point of how we view things. It is a permanent feature in society. Susan argues that photography can either alter or enlarge our notions. We rely on photography too much to give meaning to our experiences. As much as photography provides us with an opportunity to turn our life experiences and moments into infinite objects that lasts forever, desperate reliance on photos has dire consequences.
A photographer can use his photographs to quickly convince society to see things the way he did rather than the way it looks. Susan compares photography to television programs and movies. The latter can flicker and go out, but photos are actual objects that can last forever. The psychological aspect of photography can be menacing. However, in some situations, reliance on photos can be useful. Although pictures cannot be entirely trusted, viewing it with supporting information can be helpful. Therefore, there is a likelihood that Susan blew the whole aspect of photography out of proportion.
Today, there are a lot of different ways to take photos compared to the past decades. Today’s photos are more than just images. They contain a lot of information. Today’s photographs send different messages compared to the old art. Susan likens our photography’s perception as the truth to the prisoners who saw the shadows as the reality. She states that there a big difference between being educated by photographs and being educated by the older, more artisanal images. According to me, photography gives is more clear and realistic than painting. The old painting teaches us about our history but today’s photos give us more knowledge about the world we are living in.
Susan cautions people that viewing photographs with alterations or without background information of what was happening when the pictures were taken can influence their reason and perception of the particular activity. For instance, if you look at modern-day advertising, it is easy to believe that all women have flawless skin, slim and beautiful. However, this is not the truth. Even models rarely bear the resemblance of their images in the media. The directors manipulate lights and shadows to present them as the ideal image of the real thing. In this era of the ubiquitous camera phone, it is essential that the society to recognize that people, especially those in Instagram, can do anything to present their life as ideal when in reality the circumstances are otherwise. It takes a third eye to realize the distinction between life in the media and truth; that the social media life is a mere representation of the subject and not the subject itself.
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