Visual Analysis, Meaning Making, & ”Truth Value”

The Myth of Photographic Truth.

List 2-5 key points that resonate with you and write down what you found interesting about them. 

  • ‘’The photographic camera could be understood as a scientific tool for registering reality more accurately’’. (Sturken and Cartwright, 17). I found this quote interesting how a camera was referred to as a scientific tool. A camera allows us to capture/document any particular moment so that we can refer back to an event, time, or experience.
  • A point that was discussed in the video that I found interesting was the question, where would you be if you had never seen a photograph? This question made me reflect on photography and how photographs surround us daily, not just physically but also online.

Blog Post: 

Explain the notion of ‘’The Myth of Photographic Truth’’ and why it is important to an analysis of visual texts. 

A photograph is similar to a scientific tool. (Sturken and Cartwright, 17). Photographs can be used as evidence, or to document/relive a particular event, experience, or moment. However, not all photographs always display the exact truth due to human intervention. Human intervention can include, but is not limited to, the choice of framing, camera angle, and shutter speed. The main and most common form of human intervention on photographs is through computers and editing software such as Photoshop. Computerised editing programmes can allow photographs to be completely changed so that they are no longer truthful, and therefore, become more of a myth. Therefore, it is important to take into consideration human intervention when analysing a visual text.


Fig. 1. Rob Hann. Burnt Tree. Photograph. Inhabitat. Retrieved from

For example, consider Rob Hann’s photograph, Burnt Tree. This photograph represents the depletion of resources. The photograph represents pollution as well as the depletion of trees for human use (deforestation). Hann has edited his photograph with computerised software so that the tree is made from rubbish such as old car tyres, plastic, and bottles. The objects used to form the tree silhouette are all objects which are harmful to the environment as they create pollution and can harm animals. It is likely that Hann would have edited the contrast, brightness, and saturation levels to brighten the sky to contrast with the dark tones of the rubbish which make up the tree.


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