Reading Response chapter 3

Zinnia Upson


Photo 2

Reading Response Chapter 3

In this week’s reading of chapter 3, Documentary, or instants of truth, we learned about the art of documentation. Emerling says “The general premise of documentary photography is that photographs stand in a special relation to vision; however, the “vision” of the camera is meant to be detached from any particular viewer. Hence the notation that a documentary photography, the premise that a photograph is a passive recording of preexisting sights, that the presence of the photographer and the camera itself does not alter the scenes and the behavior of those before them, has not held for quite some time.” (83) Emerling tries to describe the action of documentation differently than previously learned in other classes. Documentation was previously taught to me as a scientific or archival way of preserving a moment in time and not as an artistic way of preserving things. Another part of the reading I found interesting was Sebastiano Salado’s work was that he was “criticized for being aesthetic and thus irresponsible even dangerous” then Emerling asks “Does slandering Salado’s work as aesthetic enhance or detract from our engagement with the subject matter with which he is concerned?” (105) I think that it does detract from our engagement because we disregard the subject of the photo and look at how pleasing the work is on the surface level. Aesthetic hunting really makes the viewer lose their will to look for the meaning of the artist’s work. By not classifying work as aesthetic and reminding viewers of its documentary qualities I feel it gives more meaning to a photographer’s work.


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