In this week’s podcast, we take a look at some of the differences between facts and truths in art and how having an awareness of both can shift your understanding of photography.
There are very few facts in photographs. Facts are things in a photograph that are indisputable and have happened. A fact might be the shape and size of the photograph. That the photo is color or black and white, but there are very few facts about the subject (what the photograph is about) and the subject matter (what is in the frame)
When most of us look at photos, we think about truths. We create stories about the subject and subject matter based on our bias and perspective. These truths are regarded as fact in many cases. If you see a person living in a cardboard box with track marks on their arm, you would say they are homeless and a drug addict. It is possible, however, that the person is an actor hired to play that part and in fact is not homeless or a drug addict. A lot of the elements in a photograph are like this example, and we make assumptions that are both conscious and unconscious that shift our understanding of what we think is a fact. Because the truth is also from a single perspective, it is important when we examine photographs and think about how they are created that we consider the bias of the photographer in our analysis of the image. It is in our understanding of both our bias and the photographers that we can gain a better understanding of our perspectives, prejudices, and assumptions.