[b. 1948] American film director
Photographs may be taken —but we are also taken in by them.
There’s this crazy thinking that style guarantees truth. You go out with a hand-held camera, use available light, and somehow the truth emerges.
Photographs attract false beliefs the way flypaper attracts flies.
If you want to trick someone with a photograph, there are lots of easy ways to do it. You don’t need Photoshop. You don’t need sophisticated digital photo-manipulation. You don’t need a computer. All you need to do is change the caption.
With the advent of photography, images are torn free of the world, snatched from the fabric of reality, and enshrined as separate entities; they become more like dreams. It is no wonder that we really don’t know how to deal with them.
One of the incredibly deep ironies is that the [Abu Ghraib] photographs could serve as both an exposé and as a cover-up. That they would encourage people not to look any further and make them think they had seen everything.
Truth in photography is an elusive notion. There may not be any such thing.
The issue of the truth or falsity of a photograph is only meaningful with respect to statements about the photograph. Truth or falsity “adheres” not to the photograph itself but to the statements we make about a photograph.
Photography presents things and at the same time hides things from our view, and the coupling of photography and language provides an express train to error.
People often trust low-res images because they look more real. But of course they are not more real, just easier to fake… You never see a 10-megapixel photograph of Big Foot or the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness Monster.
I think we get into all kinds of difficulty by saying photographs should be taken in a certain way which guarantees their veracity. I think that’s a slippery slope to hell.
...we do not form our beliefs on the basis of what we see; rather, what we see is often determined by our beliefs.
They say seeing is believing, but the opposite is true. Believing is seeing.
What is it that angers us?... We have been tricked. In essence, we have been lied to. The problem is not that the photograph has been manipulated, but that we have been manipulated by the photograph.
All alone—shorn of context, without captions—a photograph is neither true nor false…. For truth, properly considered, is about the relationship between language and the world, not about photographs and the world.
When you see a picture, you don’t see outside the frame.
Couldn’t you argue that every photograph is posed because every photograph excludes something? Even in framing and cropping?
Quite often photographs gain power from what is omitted from the frame rather than from what is included.
Photographs are neither true nor false in and of themselves. They are only true or false with respect to statements that we might make about them or the questions that we might ask of them.
Photography can lead us astray, we can be tricked by ocular proof. And photography—and I believe this is the right verb—can entice us into error.
Photographs preserve information. They record data. They present evidence. Not because of our intentions but often in spite of them.