Week 2: Further Questions of Authenticity

The ideas of Snyder and Allen were interesting when considering the truth and authenticity of photography and are especially relevant within the realm of representation that I am used to.  At an initial level I agree that photographers inevitably create characterisations of things in all respects from collecting evidence to a fine art photographer. I found this to be a basic but welcome addition to alternative way of looking at photographs where my ability to interpret images is often based on the ideas of Barthez.

The visual model of photography was an idea that I was able to identify with as the connection between the eye and the environment in depicting “what we would have seen if we had been there ourselves”. Again this appears a rather simplistic idea however this approach opens up the idea that the visual model in relation to the photographers eye allows an unlimited amount of possibilities to create characterisations such as choice, composition, angles, distance to name but a few. This understanding is useful to my own practice in considering the human choices that I make when deciding to create a representation. This may be furthered by the choice of equipment I use as, on occasion I decide to shoot with a mirrorless rangefinder camera with an LCD screen which helps in going unnoticed as opposed to shooting with a DSLR and prime lens where my presence is obvious to those around. These factors have heavily influenced the perspectives I have achieved thus far with my work and the differences within my work are obvious although they may not be to others.

The visual model was well exemplified by the example Snyder and Allen used when considering the photograph of James Dean in the cemetery taken by Dennis Stock. This initially resonated with my approach to wedding photography where I use prior knowledge to create visual representation of couples and their families. When I find myself within an environment, I look for the light, objects and general opportunities in order to contextualise a shot that I know a bride and her family will like. This can sometimes be unambitious maybe even lazy in a creative sense however the quality of the photograph will be aesthetically pleasing to an audience although not pleasing to myself. Applying similar ideas to my project I feel that I am very much at the learning stage and still finding my voice although I am content that I am moving forward with this.

As I continue to find my voice as a photographer the question of authenticity is of limited importance as I will be required to justify my subject matter by creating a body of work which encompasses non league football grounds but not limited to. The relationship between the visual model (Snyder and Allen) is also supported by (Barthez: 1981) who argues “authentication exceeds the power of representation”. These ideas are relevant to an extent as suggested earlier by creating authenticity due to the similarities purported between the camera and the eye.

With reference to my own work in the name of authenticity, the image below represents a lady who is attending a football match. It is believable that this is the case as we see the football match taking place in the background. We see the players on a pitch which may be indexical with the opposing colours red and blue which may be symbolic in addition to a football which may serve as an icon. All of which may provide equity in the authenticity that this lady is attending a football match. The photograph of the male however may have less authenticity as although we may understand that this person is at a non league football ground, the absence of a football match taking place may create ambiguity about the time that the photograph was taken.

In terms of the the mechanical model of photography the relationship between the photograph and what was in front of the camera is also interesting as I have created images that are different to what would have seen with our own eyes (Snyder and Allen) by using a slow shutter speed and panning the camera. Such techniques again may create ambiguity in relation to authenticity. The technique use to characterise the effect of the characterisation. Authenticity is reduced by such techniques. Although we may understand that movement as occurred, we are unable to understand the situation how it was. How fast were the players moving exemplified in the image below.


Such questions have made one consider creative choices and consider where the work I create sits in relation to representation, evidence or art? Reflections of the work I create lead to the assumption that what I create sits within the realm of art and may be justified by Snyder and Allen (1975: p 65) who cite Szarkowski who argues “the artist begins with the subject then does something to it – deforms it somehow, according to some personal sense of style”. Although such ideas are not really new and innovative I have found such ideas hugely enlightening in informing the context of my project. I edit my images, retouch my images and I colour grade my images. All of which comprise the authenticity and truth of my work. However (Ritchin 2013: p49) argues that “the photographer must increasingly emphasise the role of interpretation rather than that of transcription”. The ideas of Ritchin may be applied to my work are the emphasis on interpretation of non commercial football spaces and their romance as opposed to proving that they exist and that people visit the.

Barthez, R (1982) Camera Lucida, New York, Hill and Wang.

Ritchin, F (2013) Bending the frame, Photojournalism, Documentary and the Citizen. New York, Aperture.

Snyder, J. Allen, N.W. (1975) ‘Photography, Vision and Representation’ in Critical Inquiry, Vol.7, No.1. (Autumn, 1975)

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