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Photography as a metaphor

Dan's picture

In Chapter 7 of the Little Book of Contemplative Photography, “Making Meaning”, Zehr talks the active nature of “receiving” in photography. He calls the still, non-contextualized image of a photo, chaos, and the photographer/interpreter is responsible for creating order/coherence. It is we who, frame, organize, and make meaning of the images we choose to photograph. This, of course, is a metaphor for our experience of the world. The objective world, although it does have its own functional order, does not have “meaning” without the imposition of human perspective. Is it an empowering concept—that people can decide what meaning they will derive from the world? We all do it, but we don’t all consciously or actively do it. It echoes this speech by David Foster Wallace called This Is Water, in which Wallace says that the value – the real value -- of our liberal arts educations is that we are given the tools to escape our crippling solipsism and – our lens of selfishness, and apply new, healthier, more productive lenses. Thus, in situations which inconvenience us, we can choose how to interpret them, and thus, how to react.

            The troubling thing is, not everyone can have a liberal arts education. Now everyone can take photos or make art. So how do you teach someone to feel empowered, independent, and autonomous about their lives and their ability to control and interpret their experiences? Especially when they are so systemically degraded…



Tom Moody's picture

nice one

nice one