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photography : more than meets the eye

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Few birthdays back, i got a present with a word saying, “Nothing like it seems”. The one who gave the present wrote it in first pages of the book about Sufism. One of most annoying yet interesting subject, i find. Cos people tend to get into a fight over what they personally think about that particular subject.

Photography for me is a quest, like a sufi-wanna be who try to seek answers in her early years of struggling towards surrender-ness.

I personally disagree with stating that NOTHING like it seems. Such word pointing out a definite condition, which i believe to be unfair. Call it a wordplay, but i’d prefer “some things are more than meet the eye”.

Though I haven’t spend centuries in photojournalism, one thing i understand that it’s a kind of profession that takes HONESTY very very seriously. A photojournalist can not, should not and must not lie. Cant, because he or she doesn’t have any other choice than take the picture the way it is. Shouldn’t, because although there’s always a chance to set up pictures (portraits are excluded), he or she should remember that once they are known for setting up pictures, they’ll forever be remembered as one. No matter how good their other pictures, the stain in their reputation remain. Must not, because when you take pictures with your heart, you cant ever lie in doing it, for whatever reason.

Although, as it also a form of art – an art to communicate, an image, which believes to be worth more than a thousand words, can makes it more than meets the eye.

I always thought that a photojournalist has a privilege to choose which part of the whole scene he or she saw, to be taken in a frame that says it all. Or at least, to convey any message to the world.

A gesture of whispering between two presidents.. A message about deal talks between two countries. A mother weep and cry with ruins on the background .. A message about the pain for the lost of the love ones after the earthquake.

But is it? Is it really that?

What if one of the president just trying to tell the other president about how he likes the batik that the other president is wearing. Or, what if the woman is just a crazy person who gets hysterical every now and then and just happens to pass by a ruin of a demolished old building?

This is why, the caption is needed. To get the facts right. What ever the viewers’ opinion after seeing the image is not the matter of the picture taker, as long as that photojournalist has present the right facts over the picture in the caption. Opinions or any kinds of moved feelings would be inevitable.

Getting the facts right, the caption should goes,

“A street vendor fells asleep in a shade, in downtown Jakarta”.

But.. I didn’t get the facts right. He was sleeping, i was catching my bus, and so i didn’t have the time to ask him who he was, what he do and why he’s sleeping there.

So i can also write,

“A young man who rides bicycle to work, fell asleep in a park.”

From that image, i do a wordplay in the caption, because i make assumptions. I assumed. It’s something that needs to be avoided by journalist, including photojournalist! Because the rule of thumb is.. Journalists don’t assume! Get the facts right. Don’t be lazy and start take notes!

Because a picture does worth more than a thousand words, and some things are more than meets the eye.

*am reminding myself in case i forgot
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Written by nickmatulhuda

October 3, 2010 at 9:54 pm

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