Manipulation of Truth in the Realm of Visual Representation Essay
Essay Topic: Photography
Paper type: Essay
Words: 1090, Paragraphs: 8, Pages: 5
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The evolution of digital photography in the 1990s brought about dramatic changes in the art of capturing photos and their interpretation. Though pictures were manipulated in the past too, digital photography gave photo manipulation added dimensions. There exist varying institutions that make use of photographs to each serve their purposes. In this paper, I am going to talk about the usage of photographs in the form of maps, in terms of art and their use for the purpose of photo journalism.
In the fast pace world today, everyone is looking for ways to make life easier and accomplish tasks in the least possible amount of time. Maps, for that matter have helped address both the concerns directly. The use and application of maps is very common these days, especially in the more developed countries in contrast to underdeveloped or developing countries. In my personal experience, having lived in the US for about a year now, I’ve realized that people depend almost always on their fancy gadgets containing navigational apps to find and reach their desired destinations.
While the efficacy of maps cannot be denied in the Western world, it can be argued that they may not be just as useful in other less developed countries, like Pakistan. I can safely say that there are so many locations in Pakistan that are on no map in the world. They are unknown to the outer world and no matter how hard one tries, searching them on the maps would be almost impossible. This discrepancy can be attributed to characteristics like poor infrastructure, lack of awareness, lack of developmental initiatives, etc. Another application of maps can be seen in the business sector where they are used as ads as well as transportation guides and for directing customers towards store locations. An example of this could be the individuals we see around city centers and shopping malls with store locations mapped on boards hanging around their necks. Yet another example could be the maps we come across in subways, public transportation places and malls.
These are only a few examples of the several purposes that maps serve, the list can go on. They say, a picture is worth a thousand words and this is exactly what artists use them for- to express themselves through images and portraits. Words are not the only way to get certain ideas, opinions and suggestions across. It can also be done by means of photos that depict and deliver the same idea, just more visually or graphically, if I must say. Many a times, plain words cannot have the desired effect that visual representation can help attain. The reason is simple- seeing is believing, for many if not all. It’s a practice consistent almost across all borders and every culture because it is human nature to weigh what they see more heavily than what they hear or read. Artists use their fancy new gadgets to capture an image to the best of their ability. However, that’s not the end of the whole clicking a picture affair. Readily available graphic and editing softwares are also sometimes employed to help in making a picture look more authentic or credible. It is unbelievable how strong an impact a single photo or an image can have on individuals or even on a whole community.
A good artist can make you experience an event just by getting you to connect with his pictures of the said event. He/she can tap your emotional chord by way of his representation and manipulation of certain phenomenon, an event or an object. A third and the last dimension of photo manipulation that I will discuss is photo journalism. It’s the most common form in which photo manipulation is taking place, now-a-days. A candid shot taken anywhere, whether it is of a human, an object, nature or anything else usually goes through severe airbrushing. Thanks to the evolution of new and ever increasing editing and graphics’ softwares, people often don’t even get to witness the real image from before all the changes were made. We have countless examples to refer to. One of the most recent ones was the print ad by a Paris based cosmetic company, Lancome that was banned in the UK. The ad contained a face shot of a renowned Hollywood actress, Julia Roberts showing her dazzling smile and flawless skin.
Though the purpose of the ad was no different from any other cosmetic company’s- to attract customers towards the brand, their execution was more aggressive. Julia Robert’s face was severely photo shopped and the end look of her face was practically impossible to attain no matter what cosmetic brand were to be used. The practice of twisting reality and toying around with facts isn’t only a suit of corporate business firms but also of journalists. The people responsible for getting the facts right are the ones who manipulate them the most, only to serve their selfish motives. Whatever gives them the motivation to distort details and reality strips them of realization of how great an influence their variation from truth can/may have. Journalists today seem to have been surging unethically edited and wrongly manipulated photos and images to newspapers and magazines and putting them online, that hold little or no credibility.
In my personal experience, I’ve met and heard people who despite never having visited Pakistan hold quite a few reservations about the country’s people and its situation. I don’t blame them, why? Because I know that their opinions are based on what they have read in the newspapers/magazines and shown on television and in pictures. I place all responsibility on the media and the role journalists play in portraying the false picture for people abroad who only see Pakistan from the eyes of those biased depictions.
Mostly, the pictures published and the articles written talk about terrorism, sectarian clashes, and unfortunate happenings in my country but rarely do I come across pictures and images that show the other, happier, serene side of life in Pakistan. It is unethical and wrong on so many levels for journalists to turn such a prestigious and respectful profession into a money making business. The importance of the role photographs play cannot be undermined. It is for this reason that government intervention has become simply crucial to have. The growing problem posed by wrongful interpretation of pictures, especially by journalists must be curbed in order to maintain a clear distinction between right and wrong. It is the universal right of every individual to have access to non-fabricated, non-manipulated truth.