Theory – Wells

We were briefly asked some questions after reading an extract by Liz Wells on the subject of theory in photography and below are my answers.

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Wells presents two theoretical approaches to photography; one approach that presumes a relationship between image and reality, and other that places emphasis on the reading (interpretation) of the image over the making of the image. What are your reflections on those two approaches? How can these be critiqued (what are their strong/weak points; what do they include / exclude?)?

I believe a photo can alter the content it is placed with and vice versa. We are naturally prone to come up with our own associations with what is put in front of us. If the text was about the city and the image was of a rural area, we as the readers would assume they were placed together for a reason and would come to the conclusion that it was clever design, a metaphor or another reason without thinking that maybe that photo has no relation. Wells explains it focuses on ‘the reading’ rather than ‘the taking itself’ and I agree with this statement.

(For example, the photo above has nothing to do with this text, though when clicking on it you may of assumed it had.)

The other theory centred around the idea that the image is linked to reality. I believe this only to be true depending on the audience. Naturally we crave answers and context. So if you aware about the subject of photography and have an interest then perhaps this theory would prove correct, however if you are just looking at a photograph you may automatically relate it contextually to what lies beside it.

What is the importance of theory (why do we need to study theory in order to understand photography as a creative medium?)? Why does photographic/photography theory seem to ‘borrow’ other forms of theory in order to discuss photography?

Theory is important as it provides a platform for people to develop their understanding of any medium. In regards to photography, as it is a creative medium, in some cases I feel it needs to be grounded to be understood and appreciated by all. Other theories can be borrowed and easily applied because of the free nature of photography.


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