I was reading Photography: A Critical Induction by Liz Wells and came across an interesting passage about Photography and Identification which I felt could be quite relevant to the portrait photographs I am taking as part of this module and how people identify with themselves and their religion.
In Michelle Henning’s chapter, she talks about how ‘to study the disciplinary uses of photography means considering the ways in which people are represented, arranged for the camera, made available to be gazed at, and place in a system of signification which codes and classifies them.’ (Henning, 2015 p 297)
The way in which we consider taking a photograph of someone has to be considered because this is the representation that will be viewed by anyone who views the image. As a photographer there is always a subject bias towards photography because we aim to convey our own narrative and the things we want to represent. This means there is a certain element of needing to be considerate of the subjects wishes, as it can be unethical to depict them in a cruel or harsh light. Representation is a big element of photography and forms the basis for all narrative.
The next point Henning talks about is how we arrange our subjects for the camera. Posing or staging images is something that happens regularly within photography, especially within portraiture, with people often asking how you would like them to stand or where to look. Again, within my own work the idea of composing or staging my images is actually rather important because I want to create the best narrative I can whilst also considering the wishes of my subjects. However I know, whatever I create, will be judged by those that view it and those in the images will be classified into groups, depending on the viewers opinions and ideas of stereotypes.
I just thought the passage in Liz Wells’ book was particularly interesting with ideas surrounding ideas of representation and has made me consider how I have photographed by subjects so far, without too much concern for how they are being represented, except for the context that they are being photographed in. This could open up my images for stereotyping in a way I hadn’t expect, but I think it is a key point to remember that all images are going to be viewed in a certain way, it is just how you put them across that matters in the creation of this narrative, especially with portraits where you have the power to jeopardise that persons reputation, so it is something to be made aware of and be careful about.