A Book Review Susan Sontag's book, "On Photography”
About the Author
Susan Sontag is known for a variety of her works from different genres that have all garnered distinct attention from the public. Relatively, this recognition of her good practice in writing has provided her with the proper reputation she needs to be able to get the attention of the general public. In her book “On Photography”, she notes of the most complex ways by which the evolution of photography has become a distinct course of determining the evolution of how humans from different generations are able to express their appreciation for the said form of art from the point of its traditional approaches towards its more digital and innovative forms.
About the Book
Considered as one of its kind, the book of Susan Sontag provides a distinct indication of what photography is and how it has advanced through the years. This book notes the emergence of evolutionary photography and how it serves as the mirror of real life. Criticizing several works of art that is highly directed towards modernized form of photography, there is even a part of the book that discusses a distinct indication on how the future of photography would look like [which is strongly related to the value of photography at present]. Most likely, this approach to the definition of photography serves a great sense of indication on how the human culture has been developing through time.
Summary of the Book’s General Theme
Photographs are memories captured in frames by photographers who desire so much to get the real essence of life in their camera-lenses. It could be understood that it is through this approach that photographers become more effective in noting the most important elements of real life that captures the real value of photographs to both the ancient and the modern world. The photograph in a book is, obviously, the image of an image. But since it is, to begin with, a printed, smooth object, a photograph loses much less of its essential quality when reproduced in a book than a painting does (92-93). Question is “how real is real”?
In the presentation of facts noted by Susan Sontag, she acknowledges the fact behind editing and manipulation of images even before the emergence of the digital era. The author points out that through time, the desire to make images to the likeness of reality continues to be one of the most evident frustrations of photographers and other artists in the same field. Nevertheless, it could be noted that through the assumption of effects applied through extensive skills of the photographers, images become more expressive of the truth and reality that is aimed to be captured through the camera lenses.
Susan Sontag did not forget to point out that photographs are merely creations of humans; and the through time, innovation would develop a more distinct process by which reality is tainted by the expert skills of the photographers as they intend to manipulate the images to their liking or at least to the value of the message that they want to share with their target audience. Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention. Part of the horror of such memorable coups of contemporary photojournalism as the pictures of a Vietnamese bonze reaching for the gasoline can, of a Bengali guerrilla in the act of bayoneting a trussed-up collaborator, comes from the awareness of how plausible it has become, in situations where the photographer has the choice between a photograph and a life, to choose the photograph. The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who is recording cannot intervene (11-12). Notably, the general theme of the book of Sontag is dependent on her desire to be more specific in pointing out the difference of reality from photography and how such elements of image-manipulation has overthrown one against the other.
Practical options of determining the meaning of images through time has made it easier for Susan Sontag to identify with the developments that photographers take into account in recreating the images from what they have captured to how they want to present each imagery. Relatively, this concept of extensive development has been imposed by Sontag as the sign by which photography is slowly getting through the condition of insisting on what reality means and how the society perceives such matter in relation to what they see in photographs. History presents a great sense of what role photographs play in shaping the minds and the understanding of the people. Sontag points out that in relation to what has actually happened, there are more among those who have seen the photographs would consider such image as a sense of proof on what history actually imposes rather than solely relying on what historians have written through time.
Notably, photographs are images that are considered as effective proof towards determining what actually happened apart from what has been assumed by historians and other writers who rely on written records alone. For many years, ancient photographs serve as the evidence of occurrence and the truth that binds the different events that have been said to have taken place in history. Nevertheless, it could not be denied that there are different interpretations to such images basing from the different elements of belief and understanding that readers [or audiences coming from different generations] use to interpret photographs that are presented to them.
According to Sontag, one photograph could actually change the whole understanding of the society towards the more controversial issues that have affected the society in the past and some other points of consideration that are given attention to due to the effect they still have on the society at present. The camera has the power to catch so-called normal people in such a way as to make them look abnormal. The photographer chooses oddity, chases it, frames it, develops it, titles it (34). Sontag’s description of the role of photographs in human history and human development has been fully supported by facts and evidences that she herself has collected through time. What is it that makes these photographs more than just a piece of captured image? The meaning behind each work and the application of effects imposed by skillful photographers into each image increases the value of each photograph. Notably, it is through this determination of value or worth that the photographs increase especially in pointing out what reality means and how it has been recreated through time to fit what the world invokes each photograph to take into account especially as they are being understood as part of a valuable aspect of modern history and how the human civilization develops along with it.
Reflection and Learning
Serving as mirrors to reality, photographs become more effective in determining facts that cannot be fully captured by words. While historians and other social experts utilize recorded written data to identify with what the world considers important, photographers are able to identify well with what is intended as somewhat relatively effective in assuming the concept of reality based on how the world is supposed to seek out the most convenient ways of determining facts through images. While there are instances when photographers intend to manage the images into their own liking to fit the message they hope to share to the public, Sontag points out that audience or public interpretation plays a great role in identifying well with what the each photograph is about and how its worth is to be valued according to the meaning that the photographer wants to share to the public.