Picturing Society

Sample essay topic, essay writing: Picturing Society - 704 words

In the article, Family Photograph Appreciation, Richard Chalfen discusses a teenage viewof the relation between family snapshots and home videos. He first explains the value ofpersonal photos using an example of natural or humanly coerced disasters and the mourning ofvisual traces of the past, or in other words, photographs. Family photographs are a veryimportant aspect of peoples lives and without them we may never remember our past. Bylooking at snapshots, slides, home movies, etc, we stimulate our memory of important dates andevents. He asks many questions about memory and video verses photography which will bediscussed with teens he has interviewed. Chalfen has structured an exploratory project that asked a small sample of thirtyteenagers, living in the Cambridge/Boston areas of Massachusetts to evaluate the relative meritsof using still photography and/or videography as a preferred medium of family photography.(Richard Chalfen) He conducted the interviews with two teens at a time while having a meal in asmall restaurant.

He was interested in their opinions on comparing photography andvideography, which came out to be very interesting. The teens explained to him about the effects of video tapes and how they were a way of"being there" all over again. Some of them felt it was more realistic than flipping through apicture album. Here we will introduce a few more of the theories made by teens during theirinterviews. Videotapes seem to supply the viewer with more information and makes it easy toremember

You get sound and movement to enhance the overall effect which brings you to seethe whole experience. In many interviews the teens did not feel that videos were the best way togo. By looking at photographs it set off a whole lot of memories, not just what happened play byplay like a home video. By looking at photographs you can use your imagination and over theyears the stories from one picture will grow and change. You don't have to think when youwatch videos but by looking at photographs you search your memory for the details.

One girlexplained that she can look at photos over and over but watching a video will get boring after afew times. Perhaps we can conclude from this that there is a higher liking of still photographsover videography by most teens. They seem to be willing to put some work into collecting thisimportant information. To explain the difference, Chalfen discusses some examples, such as the two acting asmemory aids in their own significant way. High vs low context is also a difference between thetwo.

Videos are high context, which means to carry all the visual cues necessary make anappropriate interpretation. Photos are low context which is that users must supply theinformation necessary to make sense of the image. When looking into human memory we realizethat most personal memories are still images and are not usually moving. Chalfen has concluded that photography may play a very active role in future studies ofmemory and family photograph collections are an important aspect of this. He feels that there ismuch more we can learn from teens using their views of media. After watching the online photoessay, "I Photograph to Remember", by Pedro Meyer, Ihave observed that to some people photographs can document every aspect of their lives.

AsChalfen has discussed, photographs are a way of triggering your mind to look back into the pastand relive a memory. Pedro Meyer took several pictures throughout his entire life of his familygoing through happy or even rough experiences. Perhaps this was his way of coping with whatwas to come in the end. Some people might find it disturbing for a grown man to find joy intaking pictures of his dying mother and father but he thought that by doing this he may somedayunderstand why any of these terrible things happened to them. To contrast the association with image and memory between Pedro Meyer and thecharacter played by Robin Williams in "One Hour Photo", I noticed that Williams used his photocollection to "belong" to a family that he never had.

Pedro, on the other hand, used them tounderstand situations more easily. We learn from these two different sets of material thatphotographs are very important to the world and who knows what they will be used for in thefuture.

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