CRITICAL APPROACHES TO READING AN IMAGE.
The idealism in press and editorial photography is lost and I want to ascertain why this is and how we can bounce back, by asking “how can semiotics in press and editorial photography help understand our social behaviour?” and the analysing the approach to reading an image.
Semiotics is a sign and symbol theory, the theory aims to find an appropriate conclusion from our own understandings in social, political, historical and cultural experiences. Psychoanalysis is a methodology around the information we already know. It is to expand our education and acknowledge to help us recognise and apprehend what we are looking at.
Idealism is lost because photojournalists and journalists have become cautious of what they should and shouldn’t be photographing but they have developed the awareness of manipulation.
Idealism in sociology is defined as a human idea. Emphasised by beliefs and values, shaped by society. It has become easier to destruct the activity of thought without the audience knowing. Judging by the emotional factor used but also by the displeasing control of editing.
Distorted reality on the news isn’t commonly perceived because a fair handful of people don’t apprehend what they are looking at. Although, manipulating photographs isn’t a new trend. Photographers using film in the 1850s combined multiple images. Due to this conversion the genre spirit photography was founded.
William H. Mumler was accused of fraud for his photograph; Mary Todd Lincoln, 1872. The photograph claimed to show Mary and the ghost of Abraham Lincoln standing behind her – his hand rested kindly on her shoulder. After this photograph became locally famous, Mumler made a career out of his manipulations by consulting to grieving widows and widowers.
Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith caused an unexplained phenomenon after the The Cottingley Fairy photographs were presented at a Theosophical society in 1917. After World War One spiritualism and mysticism gained an increased influence across Britain. The fairy photographs resonated with many people who were eager to believe.
Cosmopolitan, Glamour, GQ, Elle have helped intensifying the false implication of female and male desirable figures by airbrushing imagines on Photoshop since 1990. Young females have developed eating disorders and anxiety is increasing in young males.
I find Eric Kim's work to be misconstrued and distorted in modern photojournalism. Kim is massively influenced by Devin Yalkin, in Yalkin's photobook, I'll see you tomorrow until I can't, he dives into the ethereal dreamscape, showing intimacy and remembrance. The clear comparison of Kim's and Yalkin's photographs are that they are timeless. Due to the artistic structure.
Kim has been an accomplished photojournalist since 2010, documenting in America and Tokyo. Kim describes his photographs as capturing the beauty and ills of society. Kim grew up in poverty with a mentally and physically abusive father and a working mother. Kim later became a teacher in LA, promoting to a principle.
Kim's critics and fans talk about him as though he is a mean God but praise his work.
Spyros Papa, 2015.
“Each style of street photography Eric has used through his photographic journey, he has produced some great images. Using flash on his Dark Skies Over Tokyo photograph, the shadow of her fingers in the background and the expression on her face as she tries to dodge the photo unsuccessfully is greatly produced.”
Daniel James, 2015.
“Eric Kim’s tactic usually seems to be more passive and encouraged, Eric tries the flash technique to approach a more aggressive tone from people. Dark Skies Over Tokyo is an example of mediocre. Where this reputation of his accomplishments hail from are misunderstood.”
Papa describes the photograph as a comedically acted photograph, the lady tries to cover her face but is unsuccessful, Kim is successful in the making of this photograph. James criticises the approach Kim has made towards the photograph, Kim forces emotion out of the people which can make the image unacceptable because of the false use of natural causes. The woman’s facial expression appears horrified not aggressive, what is this man going to do with this photograph? Dark Skies Over Tokyo is an apposite title for the photograph, purely because of her expression and contrast Kim has captured. Her gesture and expression idealise semiotics, psychoanalysing her behaviour: she disapproves of what Kim is doing and tries her best to hide herself for his pleasure.
“Amsterdam shows hope, a light shining in darkness, the concept is strong however the image lacks strength. The series is amongst Monochrome, even so this series is random. It has no story or base line. I would compare this photograph to a war documentation, purely based on the emotional factor used but because Eric is a street photographer and he has no journalistic work during any war. I thought it was quite manipulative.” Daniel Kerin, 2019.
“The problem is that the viewer is unaware of the story behind this picture, the mistake is that this photo is objectively good, he has communicated emotionally and recorded a story but the photograph seems to have been forgotten.” Davood Madadpoor, 2015.
In Kim's 2015 photograph Amsterdam, a little girl is staring just off the camera and is tightly holding a worn-out baby doll as though it were her own child. Although, it may seem that Kim rarely does anything bold to capture photographs, I would compare him to a contemporary documentary photographer. He imprisons the pure and shocking emotions.
Christ Miaskowski, 2017.
“It’s very classical in a sense yet it has that almost surreal, Dali-like look to it. This person reminds me of a whale been thrown on a beach by the waves.”
Szoki Adams, 2017.
“One of your classic shots Eric. Even though he’s bone dry, this fill gives the impression that he just dragged himself out of the water and onto the beach with his last ounce of strength.”
“Despite the obviously interesting subject, what makes this shot great is the fact that Kim has chosen to keep the background in focus to really highlight how bizarre this setting is. It definitely helps to tell the story. I love the lighting in this image and the warmth of the shot that gives you a sense of setting too.” Adam Bevan, 2015.
Kim's photograph Marseille is greatly appreciated because of how mysterious it is. Miaskowski has compared the image to an alternative emotional scene. Adams has complimented the photo with a short theory. Bevan has analysed and described the importance of composition. My immediate thought was is he dead? He is dry and crisp, head away from the camera. The surrealism Miaskowski has pointed out had become an expansion of semiotics where Kim used our expected response and emotion to sell his image.
Marseille (@EricKimPhoto) is a street photograph captured in 2013 at a port in Marseille, France. Marseille has retained its rebellious streak; its citizens embrace the revolution. The location has one of Europe’s largest and most important ports and it is expanding today. The background of this image shares a famous characteristic. To see the backdrop in focus, it helps us draw away from the enigmatic, dry body in front and the effect of this has made the imagery less of a threat to the audience.
The layout of the boats aren’t aligned and the camera is aimed more towards the right and the camera is tilted ever so slightly to the left. Kim has made the photograph more realistic and natural and less melodramatic.
The highlighted colours on the water have increased the symbolisation of purity and innocence as we lead away from the laying body. Since the colours are brightly edited, Kim’s photograph has a light-hearten impression and does not compose a peril to the public.
However, the laying crisp body does add a shock feature because the portrait does look lifeless. With the lack of movement, the face is away and hidden from the camera. The character’s hands are draped and there is little to be seen of the old man.
There isn’t much said about this photograph by Kim but Kim has provided allegory in photographing a still life portrait. Kim could sell the photograph with a war story and his audience will believe it because the photograph delivers that much power. Just by shooting a blackened body that has no sign of movement, Kim has worked within our instincts to make us consciously think he has captured a deceased body.
I accuse Kim of false idealism in photojournalism because this photograph has managed to use our instincts to make us believe this photograph is more dramatic than it appears to be. You can subtly see that the man is laying on a white towel and is sun burnt. People are swimming and splashing in the ocean, the sky is clear and the sun is out and it is directly shining on this man, judging by the position of his shadow. Automatically thinking there is a dead person in this photograph captures your emotional relationship with the imagery, this has made you intrigued to know about the illustration and its history.
Agreeing with what Bevan said in his criticism: “Kim has chosen to keep the background in focus to really highlight how bizarre this setting is. It definitely helps to tell the story.” Bevan had previously pointed out the body but has realised that the environment is playing a role in the intensity of the photograph. Although we already know Kim would not realistically capture a dead body, we know Kim has taken pleasure in seizing the emotional impacts in street photography to keep us on our feet.
Adams had creatively looked at the photography as a before scene “-this fill gives the impression that he just dragged himself out of the water and onto the beach with his last ounce of strength” ounce of strength, those words have pure emotion and theatre, I can hear those words being said at the beginning of a play as an actor holding a manuscript with his right hand out.
Kim has managed to control our social behaviour by utilizing emotional manipulation. To some level this is considered appropriate but it is about how the political and social realism is used and how it is presented with context that makes the press and editorial reputation dishonest.