The Truth About Photography

What do you want to see in photography: truth, beauty, or something else? Have our feelings toward photography changed since the camera was invented? Does what we see affect who we are? Or does who we are affect what we see?

In the beginning when photography was first invented people were amazed. Finally people could record what really is: i.e., the unequivocal truth. Painting had been the only way to record pictures up to that point. A painter can use his artistic license to change reality to show whatever he wanted to be reality. He could make the subject younger or the sunset brighter or the victory more heroic. But you could not do that with photography, right?

From the get go, there was a Civil War photographer by the name of Matthew Brady who would drag bodies from the field of war and prop them up in positions that he found more aesthetically pleasing.

The viewers would see and feel what Brady wanted them to see and feel about the Civil War. These feelings would then affect the way that those viewers saw the war. Art is powerful. An artist can change the world for better or worse. He could make you believe in heroes or cowards by the positioning of his props: the freshly made corpses.

Now take a look at the main forms of entertainment today: movies and video games. These artistic mediums strive for the best graphics: the most “realistic” pictures of their fantasy worlds. When you spend time looking at these idealized worlds full of adventure and amazing sights, you may start to feel a little sad and underwhelmed by what you see in real life. So you have to keep going back to these forms of art to escape from your dull real world.

What about plain, old photography? All the “best” photos are Photoshopped these days. Just look at any of the award shows for photography. Don’t believe everything that you see. And don’t let what you see define you. Enjoy the beauty in nature; there are some amazing places to visit on this planet even if they don’t have plants that glow at night like on Pandora. And especially don’t let what you see define who you think you are. (I feel an additional blog coming on: stay tuned for Beauty Defined Throughout Art History.) You can be beautiful without being model sized. You will be most beautiful as your healthy self: with a big smile, of course.


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