Ernst Lalleman

How about Susan Sontag in 2017?

In her famous book, “On photography”, Susan Sontag explains that a photographer ought to be aware of the fact that he or she, in a way, immortalizes the people portrayed.

The image will exist forever and will not change. What does change is the context in which the photograph is exposed,  the contemporary perceptions and the changing perception to visual content in general.

When the content of her book was written in the mid 1970’s photography had a different role in our societies. A photograph was a document, mostly taken by a professional photographer. Our private photos taken of our friends and families on holidays, birthday parties or other special events were kept in our photo albums on a shelf.

A particular photograph or portrait can be shown in various contexts. So the meaning of the photo may change. The parameters of this change are numerous. Where is the photo shown? What is the context? When is the photo shown? Has the public opinion about the context changed?

Nowadays the majority of our images are shown and viewed on the social media. Do Susan Sontag´s worries still apply? And does a portrait still have context, rather than being just a narcissistic “selfie”?

As I stated in my previous blog posts the role of photography has drastically changed. Maybe it has become less “official” and as a result more shallow and superficial.

In my work as a photographer I maintain the attitude of being cautious with the publication of my photographs and would never publish any photo without the consent of the subjects in the photo.


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