The invention of cameras is probably one of the most important milestones in history. As such, photography has been used by mankind over centuries to capture the moments and store them in a medium. More often, the photographer is at their discretion to depict the image hence skewed to their interests and objectives. While the pictures often reflect the truth then, some may give a false impression based on what the photographer wants an individual to see (Dockett, et al, 2017). A photo without relevant information can be interpreted using different reference materials available. Interpreting a photo is therefore important as information decoded can be used for the benefit of the individual and society. Looking at an image, one can get information that lasts ages. Every image carry’s specific information that is subject to the interpretation of an individual (Leonard and McKnight, 2015). With little information about it, one can deduce more just by looking. Photography, therefore, is a means of passing information. It has evolved hence showing the importance it holds in society. The report analyses some of the photos collected over time in history depicting the situation that people faced, specifically poverty levels, the architecture of the past as well as a general photo of the life in Russia. Images used have been printed and information has been provided. It is are a reflection of the time and lifestyle of individuals in the past. Every image is interpreted differently based on the information provided and the history of the location at the time. Photography should, therefore, be made a day of daily practice in human life. It documents history and can be interpreted based on the eyes of the observer.
The first photo is was taken by Jacob Rissi. In the photo, a woman is seen seating holding a child on held arms. She seems stressed. The black and white nature of the photo does help in describing the dire conditions in which the woman is living. Old metallic containers seemed to have been hurriedly arranged as they do not indicate any form of organized space. Moreover, the woman seems to be looking at the cameraman with lots of pain in her. The room seems small yet utensils can be see aligned on the wall. A ladder leaning at the wall could be an indication that the room is a store. However, there seems to be a pile of clothing that cannot be described clearly. Based on the face of the woman, space she is in looks more like everything she has. As such the photo is a description of the abject poverty that the people indicate. The information about the photo indicates that the mother was Italian and was captured in 1889. It was published by Riss in as a pictorial representation in the study titled “How the Other Half Lives. Since it is an urban setting, housing must have been a serious challenge for the dwellers. The photo also shows the religious status of the mother as the hat hanging on the wall suggests a religious iconography.
The second picture portrays a relatively old woman who is immersed in the magazine on her table. Her glasses indicate old age. The information about the photo indicates that the woman in the photo is the mother of Alexander Rodchenko, the individual who took the photo. The Russian family lived around 1924 when the photo was taken. The text on the magazine is not readable, however, her concentration indicates that the information therein must have been important. Since the picture is more focused on the lady, little information can be seen about the background and social status of the space they are in. However, the information provided indicates that the woman only learned how to read once she was in her fifties. As such, one can deduce that the quest for information has never been limited to age. Moreover, she is decently dressed and with the sunglasses and magazine on the table, she can be categorized as one of the middle-class families. The woman dresses in the traditional old Russian grandmother style hence a depiction of the respect for the culture at that time. Furthermore, the ring on her finger indicates that she must be married and hence respect for the culture. The face she displays makes one think that the message holds key points that would help her make critical decisions. She seems to be straining to read the magazine, however, that could also mean her interest in decoding the information is insatiable.
The last picture is an indication of life in America around 1904. The photo was taken by Edward Steichen. America had risen and the background indicates the affluent. The tall building stands to look over people who are busy with their day to day activities. The building looks expensive based on the time it was built. During the era, few such buildings had been constructed. The picture is an aerial description of how it felt to work and live in New York City. Individuals are seen walking with light clothes, moreover, the trees barely have leaves indicating the relatively harsh climatic condition that existed at that time. The American art had come of age as the buildings are seen to be leaning on top of another. The technology used by the article also indicates he advanced systems had been put in place. While there is no indication of what the purpose of the building was, the era was marked by buildings that were used for manufacturing and production processes. The broad surface not only provided the much-needed space but gave the building a firm foundation to hold all the activities that took place therein. The American culture of hard work and resilience is depicted in the photos. Such is possible as individuals are seen working on the cleanliness of the building. One can further decode that the presence of good road and street lights indicated that the processes therein were meant to be secured and could run for as many hours as possible. The property put up indicates the social status of the American people. Individuals working within the environment can be categorized as belonging to all the social classes including the rich, middle class and the poor. In the mind of the interpreter of the photo, the rich are the owners of the building seen giving direction while the middle class could be the individuals who continuously work on the construction site.
In conclusion, photography is a critical tool in the history of mankind. Just by looking at a photo, one can identify the aspects of life in the past. Different societies have a specific cultural, social and economic status that can only be depicted through pictures. The interpreter can easily refer to history and refer to the photos to get the real picture of life and times in the history of mankind. Since the 21st century is the information age, technologies should be used to encourage the promotion of activities that will help decode the history while the current is continuously documented. A message can only be passed if the item can be accurately interpreted. Though photography cannot stand alone, text and other reference materials come in handy in ensuring the relevant information is shared.
Dockett, S., Einarsdottir, J., & Perry, B. (2017). Photo elicitation: reflecting on multiple sites of meaning. International Journal of Early Years Education, 25(3), 225-240.
Leonard, M., & McKnight, M. (2015). Look and tell: Using photo-elicitation methods with teenagers. Children’s Geographies, 13(6), 629-642.