Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Text before Subtext in Photographs

The meaning of 9/11's most controversial photo

Follow the link for quite an interesting article about one of the most controversial photographs taken on 9/11. I find it amazing how much people read into it without much thought into other options. It just goes to show what can happen when you attempt to read subtext into everything you see without taking a step back and having a look at the bigger picture.

It made me think about how I see photos, and how other people may see my images. For instance the photograph below is one I took back in January at a protest in London. It was chosen by the BBC to go on their round up of the weeks news as the one photo to represent the large protests that took place in both London and Manchester. I think this may have been partially down to the fact that most peoples first impression of the image is that the policeman is being heavy handed and violent as he grabs this protester and pushes her back.

What actually was happening at the time doesn't quite reflect this impression. The protesters had blocked both in front and behind a column of police riot vans and the police were deployed to clear them from the road. As the police line collided with the protesters, this policeman grabbed hold of the female protester to stop her falling back and potentially hitting her head.

As you can see this was almost the opposite to what most people would think was happening in the photo, and probably what the photo editors at BBC News thought, (although I'm not complaining that they picked my image to use!) So if you only take one thing away from this, let it be to remember that in life there are always so many different explanations of what could be happening, so don't just decide on the most obvious one when viewing a photograph for the firs time.

Police 'clashing' with protesters at an 'Anti-Cuts' march in London

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