Photography as a media form expresses and transmits information to the viewers through decodable messages Evans & Hall (1999). Pictures speak volume and disseminate much information and reaction that differs from one observer to another. People's thoughts and behavior directly affects perception, thereby suggesting the possibility of culture and psychological base in picture interpretation. According to Clarke (1997), photographs both mirrors and creates a discourse with the world, and is never, despite its often-passive way with things, a neutral representation.
As viewers observe a photo, it sparks different interpretations and beliefs depending on the culture and ideological differences. Images speak louder in their visual language and disseminate information relating to particular occurrences. Photographs lack neutral representation as viewers have varied interpretation and feelings depending on their cultural and ideological differences.
The image of a Jewish woman defying Israeli security forces in the illegal settler’s eviction in West Bank offers a practical explanation of Clarke’s statement. A look at the photo shows a lone woman standing in the way of soldiers in full riot gear who remains undeterred by their sight. Further, the woman in the picture halts their track preventing them from carrying out the intended eviction action. To the eyes of some observers, the image demonstrates defiance to what is perceived as unjust removal by the government forces.
At the same time, the image of a composed lady ready for protest regardless of the overwhelming number of officers explains a valid reason for defense against the action. In most cultures, women stand to defend the society and are in most cases not supposed to be harmed. The image shows the reluctant officers who consider the fact and try to calm down to avoid causing harm. Towards the top, a crowd of people is seen gazing at the woman in protest against the eviction thereby emanating a feeling of compassion among viewers.
In drawing Judgment from the nature of the image, the situation is dramatic with the soldiers charging towards the woman who holds them back. It is unknown what might be the next move for the law enforcers should the woman continue insisting on blocking their mission. The state evokes different emotional responses from the viewers, who might give sympathy to the woman in the presence of the soldiers. At the same time, the photo creates a tense image between the two parties involving the heavily armed soldiers ready for eviction and the woman in protest.
On the other hand, some might find justification for the soldiers to carry out the eviction based on the reasons underlying the same. In this case, it is evident that pictures bear different responses and evokes conversations, which might fail in similarity due to ideological differences on the matter at hand (Rayner, Wall, and Kruger, 2004). Therefore, the image offers non-uniform representation with viewers deriving a different meaning from the picture.
While images evoke dialogues and debates from viewers, the information decoded remains different from one person to another (Lester, 2014). While others may sympathize with the woman opposed to the effects of eviction, others, due to ideological and cultural considerations would find opposing views from the case. In essence, there is so much in the photo for the viewers to find meaning and connect the event. The photograph, therefore, provides a justification for the fact that images create a discourse with the world but do not offer a neutral representation. Clarke is right on his view on photography and its lack of uniform representation to the public for ideological reasons.
Evans, J., & Hall, S. (1999). Visual culture: The reader. Sage.
Graham Clarke (1997): The Photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 27-33
Lester, P. M. (2014). Visual Communication: Images with messages, Sixth Edition, International Edition. USA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Rayner, P., Wall, P., & Kruger, S. (2004). AS media studies: the essential introduction.Psychology Press