Philip Gefter

Topics: Photography, Camera, Photograph Pages: 3 (907 words) Published: May 9, 2011
In the world of art, the photograph has conventionally been used to establish original subjects that document and reflect cultures as accurately as possible. However, in Philip Gefter’s essay, “Photographic Icons: Fact, Fiction, or Metaphor”, Gefter points out that, “just because a photograph reflects the world with perceptual accuracy doesn’t mean it is proof of what actually transpired. (208)” What Gefter is telling us is that it is that the ordinary reality of the image is not what is important; the metaphoric truth is the significant factor. What makes photojournalism essential is that it helps show us how to view the world in an individualized way. It is, essentially, a public art, and its power and importance is a function of that artistry. From the war photography of Mathew Brady (who was known for moving dead bodies to create a scene) to Ruth Orkin (who directed a second shot to capture “American Girl in Italy”, when the first “real” shot was not to her liking), Gefter underscores that, although these shots are not the unedited version of life, this was life, just in a more appealing fashion. Gefter does not feel these photos are historically invalid. In fact, he believes that they are “proof of facts in real time, moments in history brought to the present. (208)” Seldom are photojournalistic efforts important primarily because of the “fact” of what they show; their informational value is minor. Such is the case of the 1956 United Press International photograph of Rosa Parks sitting at the front of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. For many years, we were led to believe that this photograph was taken on that famous day. It was not until many years later that Parks revealed that the photograph was taken over a year after the day she refused to give up her seat on the bus.

The power of this photo resides in the image itself. In general, how much of the value we place on a photographic image is based on what’s actually in the photograph, and how much of it is...
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