Week 2: A Question of Authenticity

In response to this task I am using images of one of my early shoots at a football match between Radcliffe Borough and FC United of Manchester.

The first image depicts a man who appears to be deep in thought whilst reading a match programme. However only moments earlier I had approached this person, explained my project before taking the picture. Therefore, regarding the notion of truth, this is very much a constructed image. The subject who appears to be reading the programme couldn’t have read anymore than the opening paragraph. In essence, I had found a good actor who was happy to collaborate in the making of what appeared to be a documentary image. In addition to the pleasure of ‘stillness’ both parties contributed  to the creation of a photograph with indexical iconography which may belong to the realm of documentary photography. With this assumption in mind, the lines between a portrait and documentary photography are blurred.

The second image from this shoot I would classify as a documentary image and is relevant because the subjects who are eating are consuming food from what we could identify as paper that would be used to package food from a chip shop. This may hint at notions of class and the context of a football terrace could further that assumption. This may be relevant to my wider project which is non commercialised football as the mass globalisation and manufactured glamour of high level football would almost certainly not allow these practices to take place. Almost like taking your own sweets to the cinema. Therefore I feel the image below has more truth than the image above In addition to being a statement of activism.

The final image is one of my favourite images from my project to date. Again this is a constructed photograph as a result of my intervention of asking these two boys if I could take their photograph. They are watching the players warm up before the match however that isn’t clear because the photograph lacks the indexical elements to tell that story. What the boys are observing could be anything which adds to the interest of the image and is outside of my usual approach because I am only telling part of the story. I feel this is a dangerous line to take with my work as a story without an ending can be unsatisfying. However I feel that the subjects within the image contain enough interest to carry the story. Two teenage boys, high visibility vests which would infer a reason for being there, grey tracksuit bottoms which are not part of their official regalia however an important piece of ‘street uniform’ within this Northern, British conurbation.

In terms of Barthes idea that ‘authentication exceeds the power of representation’, one may agree to an extent at the level of denotation however any connotation that may be read or decoded must be met with suspicion (Berger 1972). With regard to the photograph of people eating chips, the documentary nature of this image is the result of an impulse which is interesting in respect of authorship and the selection of the frame  by the photographer. Franklin (2016: 165) argues that “There is no wright or wrong, only an impulse to photograph”, With the ideas of Franklin in mind the relationship between impulse, authenticity and selection could possibly be explored further. The selection and decision to capture by the photographer is a subjective decision and will always be that way. Being able to further crop the frame after the image has been captured offers potential to change the representation which adds substance to the argument of authenticity at the level of connotation is very unstable. Authenticity as evidence of a time, place, attendance etc may be the limits to a photograph and its authenticity.

Berger, J. (1972). Ways of Seeing: Penguin, Harmondsworth.

Franklin, S. (2016) The Documentary Impulse, Phaidon, New York.

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