Deconstructing Photography

by Jessie Roberts


Marvin Heiferman thinks we shouldn’t call photography a “universal language”:

People talk about photography being a universal language but really it’s not; it’s multiple languages. The dialogues you can have with neuroscientists about photographic images are as interesting and as provocative as the dialogues you can have with artists. People have wildly different contexts in which they use photographs — different criteria for assessing them, reasons for taking them, priorities when looking at and evaluating them. It creates incredible possibilities for dialogue when you realize the medium is so flexible and so useful.

How we should think about photography:

Galleries and museums have spent the last 30 or 40 years trying to say this is art. Yes it is, but on a bigger level it’s life. Photography is all about life. You can have a philosophical conversation about a red light photograph that you got a parking ticket for as much as you can over something you see in a museum. We need a broader appreciation of photography as it comes to play a more central role in our lives; it shapes our imagination; it shapes our values; it shapes our activities. We have to understand that better.

(Photo by Flickr user Kelly Hofer)