photography Thought for the Week

TFTW #9: Azoulay on the photographic encounter

TFTW…thought for the week…some occasional quotes to inspire…

The photograph…is never solely the realization of the preconceived plan or a vision of a single author, but is rather the outcome of an encounter. This encounter involves four protagonists at least – a camera, whoever stands behind the lens, whoever faces the lens, and whoever might become a spectator viewing the product of the encounter.

Mainstream discourses of photography…tend to attribute that which is visible in the photograph to only one of the participants involved in the production of the image. This is the consequence of discursive conventions – in the discourse of art and, eventually, that of photography as well. When this axiom of rule is suspended, however, what is inscribed in the frame no longer appears as derivative of the photographer’s point of view, nor as its projection or implementation. Rather it can be seen to result from the encounter between the four protagonists, each of whom might take on a different form.

Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography (London: Verso, 2012), pp. 219-20.

Photo credit: justLuc/Flickr