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On Photography by Susan Sontag: A Reflection and Analysis

Updated on July 23, 2019
Rhylee Suyom profile image

Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

On Photography by Susan Sontag


On Photography by Susan Sontag: A Reflection and Analysis

Things Photographs Teach Us

There are five important points Sontag implied on photographs and these are a photographer can alter the perception of people through captured images, more than representation of reality photographs are experiences captured at the right time, and through the captured images a photographer can prove that something exists or something happened, when images are captured it makes every moment available and thus converting moments into lifetime souvenirs.

How Photographers Control What We See

Photographers capture images which they would like to show us. Enhancements, lighting and editing the captured images controls the things they want people to see in the images captured. Cropping objects, lighting enlargement controls the response of the observer and directs their attention to what the photographer would like them to see.

Photography Altering Experience

Photography changes experience as one gets to see objects and places in different perspectives from the different angle’s images are taken. It also gives a fresh look on objects especially after enhancements. While taking pictures at different times a photographer sees how the world happens in detail, how things may change and how simple objects can evoke intense emotions.

Choices between Photography and Life

A photograph is an image of truth; it shows what the people should see and what they do not see. It is an image with complete and varied explanation which can also function as shadows where the real objects meant to be shown are not reality the things that are seen by people. The reality of falsehood in the image taken lies on the belief of the person looking at the photograph whether he will accept it as an image of reality or not.

Diane Arbus and Taking Pictures

“I always thought of photography as a naughty thing to do -- that was one of my favorite things about it, and when I first did it, I felt very perverse.” Yes I agree, photography not only inspires one to be creative but it also encourages a person to explore to be able to capture more beautiful images and to take on subjects which would be reflecting one’s personal thoughts, beliefs, desires and perception of the world.

The Camera and its Predatory Act

Literally presenting how the camera could take a life, Sontag cited the way camera was used in the movie peeping Tom, where the camera was used as a weapon of killing people all for the idea of being able to capture images of people while they are going through their death. Other instances are when camera is used to take nude pictures or images that feed the sexual desires or people. It was like exploiting the subjects even without physically touching them all because of the intention of satisfying certain thoughts and desires while taking the images.

Mortality and Time Function in Photographs

Photographs captures moments or images from different time, it can be a means for showing how things have changed through time. When photographs are used to support information in the news the images show the different ways life is valued at different levels. It may also be showing varied forms of ending one’s life as when photographs are used for documentation of crime scenes.

Politics and Photographs

Photographs are like stimuli which arouse certain feelings and desires; photographs can also inspire thoughts, embed conscience or awaken moral feelings. It can be an effective instrument to set off political consciousness through the images presented, especially those that takes on the subjects of human oppression, racial discrimination, evidences of poverty, political and historical events, or sometimes even just a simple picture of a person who has been known for causing distraught or inspiration to humanity.

Our World Shaped by Photographic Images

Photographs give information, they are meant to show how the world looks like but sometimes photographs also hides information or pieces of reality. When pictures are edited, enhance or filtered, or even the way objects in a photograph are focused, there are some things which were meant to be hidden; the unwanted parts of the world are taken out to present only the good things. People accept the world as recorded from photographs and not on how they understand the reality of the world as they see it with their own eyes.

My Final Take

“Today, everything exists to end in photograph”, it should not, there are some moments or things that are meant to be enjoyed and experienced and kept in memory. But ever since everyone got habit of taking photographs of everything to be posted and shared on social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter it has changed the way things are enjoyed or moments are captured through memories. Most people now find it a must to take pictures of things from their foods to drinks to their dress or outfit for the day to the beautiful scenery they see around because they think of it as something worthy of posting for their social media rather than truly appreciating beauty in nature and things because of the experience it provides.

Instagram Has Ruined Me & The Facebook Eye

The purpose of taking pictures had changed through time, if before the purpose of taking pictures was to capture the image to keep the memory of it. As it goes then one cannot say it happened of he experienced it unless there is a capture image. But now that consumerism has been more evident taking images has been made for the purpose of sharing it on social media. Every image taken should be worthy of posting on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Sontag, Susan. (1977). On Photography; In Plato’s Cave. New York: Picador. 1 – 24.


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