John Berger – Ways Of Seeing

My tutor has given me some excellent extra reading resources and i’ve just finished watching a video by John Berger titled ‘Ways Of Seeing’. This is a very powerful video, and even though it is filmed in the 1970’s the topic and material is incredibly relevant in regards to the digital era and photography. I’ve been researching more work by John and have found some very beneficial information.

Here are several of my favourite quotes:-

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.”  – John Berger, Ways Of Seeing

All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this -as in other ways- they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it. – John Berger, Keeping a Rendezvous 

Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does. – John Berger

What makes photography a strange invention – with unforeseeable consequences – is that its primary raw materials are light and time – John Berger

Photographs bear witness to a human choice being exercised in a given situation. A photograph is a result of the photographer’s decision that it is worth recording that this particular event or this particular object has been seen. If everything that existed were continually being photographed, every photograph would become meaningless. – John Berger

These are a few of many very interesting and thought provoking quotes that really make me assess the subject of my photographs at a much greater level. I am recording something to my own choice, to then display to others – I have control over what i choose to include and exclude; this is a topic that John Berger discusses as he demonstrates that by taking a selection or part of a scene you are creating something completely unique. For example, taking a picture of a crowded street, and then taking a picture of a person zoomed in within the crowd to produce a portrait results in extremely different pictures, but of the same scenario.





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