Week 2 Coursework – 03.02.2020

Week 2 Coursework – 03.02.2020

In this weeks forum we were asked to talk about the representation and authenticity of our images and to share an image whilst discussing this. I shared the below image of a birth I photographed .

“To take a good photograph, runs the common claim, one must already see it. That is, the image must exist in the photographers mind at or before the moment when the negative is exposed.” (Sontag. 2008. pg 117) I would ask if to create a good photograph an artist must ‘already see it’ , if, whether to be a consumer of a good photograph one must also ‘already see it’ . This idea of someone preconceiving, of “already seeing” the image before it is created, or viewed is what I discuss below. 

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When I think about authenticity in my practice, I always think of this image. Everyone always comments on it when they see it, for what they think it shows. But what does this image show? What do you think it shows ? Mum, Dad, Doula (could be granny, or friend, or midwife if you didn’t know who it was). Someone standing in the door way , apprehensive to come in? Or maintaining a respectful distance?

Everyone always thinks the same thing, this is mum, in pain, scared, dad desperately trying to take the pain away, comforting female, mum about to have her baby anytime now, desperately trying to use that gas and air to gain relief ?

This image is none of those things.

We see those things because that is how we are conditioned to see birth. Society , the media, all kinds of photographic representation, would have us believe that is the only way that birth happens. So that is what our brain tells us we are seeing.

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In here I explained that none of those things happened, something totally different was happening, and contrary to how this image appears on first look,  baby had already been born.

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I think the illusion in images, isn’t just about what is and isn’t in them. It is about what we have been trained since our infancy to see, and also, what we have been trained to be blind too.

Is this image authentic? Absolutely, 100%, it is one of the most authentic images I have ever taken in my life. Is it my job to make sure that everyone understands it, what it is, what it represents? Absolutely not. I owe no-one anything apart from the people in the image. I see my job as birth photographer to document and capture the birth scenes in as aesthetically a pleasing way as possible, whilst depicting the ‘truth’, how this truth is interpreted by parties not present on the day , is , to me, the viewers take on Sontag’s ‘already seeing’ an image before it is viewed. It is a subconscious reading that is dependent on upon others, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, whether you have given birth, how that birth went, what images of birth you have seen, and where you have seen them, what films of birth you have seen, and in what context, the list goes on and on. 

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Fig 1, 2012 Bambino art/ ukbirthphotographer

Fig 1, 2012 Bambino art/ ukbirthphotographer

 

 

REFERENCES

Sontag, Susan. 2007. On photography. London, Penguin modern classics.

 

FIGURES

Fig 1, 2012 Bambino art/ ukbirthphotographer

T~F~:

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