Can Photojournalism Change Our Biases?

Overview

In an exploration of photojournalism, visual storytelling, and how it can potentially reshape our understanding of certain groups of people it offers insights which can potentially change our biases. I intend to introduce various types of images from the blog Humans of New York that can elaborate on how photojournalism presents an opportunity to change our biases beyond online mediums. Throughout this experiment, I will engage with images on a superficial sense, and on a practical level where I can probe certain visual literacies of an image within the context of Humans of New York.

Problem

Since the emergence of new media sites, it has given birth to various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram which has offered individuals a way to express themselves in unique discourse communities than before. In doing so, many individuals use photos with or without content as a way of to give a voice to voiceless individuals. Does photojournalism paint a fair picture of our culture today? Specifically, can photojournalism reshape our understanding of certain types of people and offer insight, which can possibly change our biases?

Solution

Over the span of all of our lives we have digested millions of images. Many of these images has shaped how we perceive the world and it has been reinforced by mass media. My contention is that photojournalism offers individuals a chance to offer new understandings of certain kinds of people and perhaps in doing so we can end our biases about certain groups of people. For this project, I will examine the blog Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton, a blog that shares stories while offering a new light on photojournalism and cultivating a new type of visual experience. I will view 1,000 of out 3,530 photos and explore 3-5 that I find visually captivating and content that sheds light on the individual in an effort to chart how I am transformed through this experience. 

Deliverables

  1. To create a comparative analysis which I write about my emotion about a certain image and then write about my emotions are reading the content of the image and write about the emotions I feel after the image. This will be executed by leaving a comment on Instagram/Facebook below the image.
  2. A PowerPoint/Prezi presentation with images that carefully assess each photos for the overall image, the image point of view, the quality of the image, the subject matter of the image (if there is any) whether it is environmental, controversial, or presents a challenge to ethical values.
  3. A blog post to my personal blog Black Attire Aficionado that I can reflect on the success, emotions, and revelations of how I was affected by the images and contents of the Human of New York and if I was changed by the visual storytelling. (Hyperlinks to ePortfolio, to Black Attire Aficionado, and to OpenLab)
  4. Create a image that mirrors Human of New York and tracks its success on Instagram and Facebook. (Use hashtags on Instagram and Facebook)

Objectives

The visual language/ visual rhetoric, multimedia storytelling, and how our cultural beliefs leads to misinterpretation of an image has affected how we quantify ourselves and the people around us.

Questions to Probe

  1. How does cultural beliefs affect visual storytelling?
  2. Can an image stand without content?
  3. What factors play a part in interpretation?
  4. How does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  5. Why does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  6. Can we un-train our eyes?

Goals

To successfully chart my discoveries and offer insight on how we shine a new light on the ways in which photojournalism plays role in how interpret images and perhaps how we can begin to un-train our eyes.

Timeline

11/12 View 100-500 photos

11/15 View 100-500 photos

11/18 Narrow down on 3-5 photos

TBD

 

Methodology

TBD

 

Sources (subject to change)

Humans of New York

Photojournalism 

The Importance of Storytelling 

Visual Narratives 

Forbes 

Photojournalism and Rhetoric

Visual Rhetoric and Culture

Since the emergence of digital media, it has led to the creation of how various online communities play a role in shaping visual rhetoric and culture. An online community is a group of people with common interests who use the Internet (web sites, email, instant messaging, etc.) to communicate, work together and pursue their interests over time. Each of these communities has attracted individuals of all kinds to participate within that community of shared interest. Some of the communities are within platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, OkCupid, Buzz Feed, and Flickr to name a few. When I examined all these communities there was one common thread, many individuals used photos as a way to use visual rhetoric/ visual storytelling to quantify themselves. This had led me to several question, Do photos need content? Are images cultural? How has multimedia affected visual storytelling?

The key elements of my project are:

*Visual language

*Are images cultural?

*Multimedia storytelling

I want to explore the following questions ‚ÄúHas our cultural beliefs affected the way we interpret a image and why does it affect the way the see a image?‚ÄĚ Over the span of all of our lives we have digested millions of images. Many of these images has shaped how we perceive the world and it has been reinforced by digital media. The visual language/ visual rhetoric, multimedia storytelling, and how our cultural beliefs leads to misinterpretation of an image has affected how we quantify ourselves and the people around us. Perhaps culture does not only play a role in who we are but severely affects how we see the world. Often times the media reinforces their interpretations of an image and try to feed it down viewers throats. This can have many affect on the psyche’s development, whether for good or for bad.

For this project I propose an experiment in which I will research 5-10 images with and without content and interview people to see how they interpret them. These images will stem from online sites such a Human of New York, famous paintings, images that have been remixed into memes. In my research I hope to identify how different cultures interpret visual images with and without content. Secondly, by . I want to examine the phycology, environmental factors, traumatic events, fear, and age to chart how those factors play a role in how our psyche interprets an image. I hope to shine a new light on how we interpret images and perhaps how we can begin to un-train our eyes. I want to provoke the questions, are we an extension of all the images we have seen throughout our lives.

Questions:

  1. How does cultural beliefs affect visual storytelling?
  2. Can an image stand without content?
  3. Is age an important factor when one views an image?
  4. What factors play a part in interpretation?
  5. How does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  6. Why does culture affect the way we interrupt an image?
  7. Can we un-train our eyes?
  8. Are your mind and body performing better?

 

Sources

“Producing New and Digital Media”-Cohen and Kenny

“Writing & Editing for Digital Media”- Carroll

Wikipedia

 

 

Aylan Kurdi

It was very important to us that we placed Aylan’s death in context, with some serious reporting about what happened to him and the broader picture of current political and social attitudes towards refugees across Europe, particularly in Britain and Germany. I still think it was right to use the pictures, but I might be wrong about that, and I’m aware that good intentions and serious intent are not always enough. РThe Guardian

The boy– Aylan Kurdi¬† is not just ‘the Syrian boy who drowned’ in early September. The context of the image was to illustrate the sadness of the refugee situation. However, it became an outcry for what seems to be all lost children of such tragedies. The author upon our search was not found but what was listed was newspapers from various regions in European that used the photograph when the story first broke, but to our research the first actual person who took and posted the picture could not be found.

The visual imagery appeals to the ethos of a person by not only the raw nature of the image but also the questions it rises such as: how many more children have died this way? and how many of these stories go untold?

This image went viral due to the fact that we believe it contained an innocent child who encapsulates the fight and struggle of the refugee epidemic. It circulated based on this heartbreaking fact that he had not only lost his home but now his life too due to this situation. As the image circulate we attached our own meaning and in doing so create our own story as to why this is relevant to our culture or even why it is relevant to read.

The meanings the picture took on were both negative and positive in cases. For instance, people took the image as a way to be proactive and pay tribute while others created memes mocking and taunting the situation.

When it came to researching the image and story it was shockingly simple due to the fact that all we had to search was ‘Syrian boy drown’, and in a fraction of a second we were flooded with millions of stories and images. This not only shows how much the story circulated and its virality.

Do Raceless Individuals Exist?

As many of you know or may not know, I was born in Jamaica— an island with an¬†ancestry of both¬†Taino and Africans. Before I migrated to America, I never labeled myself as black, non-white, non-hispanic because those terms did not exist in my vocabulary or culture– I was Jamaican and then I came here. For many immigrants there is a unwritten language that you have to know here without being directly told that the language even exist which is to¬†categorize yourself. One of those subtle languages you are expected to know is the language and the history of race in America. Race in America is extremely sensitive, there is almost no way to desensitize the terrible implications of slavery.

First, I must say that as an outsider, it is unique paradigm to see, you are a part of it but in many ways your are not. There is the white world and the black world– no mater what country you are from you are forced to choose a category. I don’t make the rules, that just how it is in America. We are encouraged to create a three fold color scheme where white, black and shades of grey exist but the reality is the predispose and reinforced dichotomy only exist with two shades and the American media reinforces it every single second they have. And for any second you think that it does not exist then you are too naive or you have been privileged to have not seen the murky waters.

There are people who are forced¬†to categorize, label or identify, whatever they are calling it now, as one or the other and then there are those who identify as raceless individuals.¬†Not to discount their reasoning on identifying as a “raceless individual” because it’s quite a utopian view, however let me remind you that this is America we are talking about. You cannot afford to choose because the choosing has already been done for you, the choice has been made. In Lisa Lebduska article “Racist Visual Rhetoric and Images of Trayvon Martin” she toys with the idea “Whether we see, what we see, and how we see it is determined by tacit cultural conventions and regulations.” (1)¬†The truth is or at least my truth is, you can’t change it because you can’t undo slavery, you can’t undo racial tension, the eyes can’t unsee it, you can’t rewrite the past and you can’t change the past. You can’t prevail in America as a raceless individual because it won’t allow you to, you have to choose black¬†or white¬†or by some chance you may be both but nonetheless you still have to choose. You are not afforded the luxury of¬†not seeing color or any features that expose someones’ ancestry¬†because the American conventional views does not allow it. The ways in which we see a person, and how we see them are influenced and will continue to be influenced by the¬†traditional¬†ways of thinking of the already established, non-changing paradigm of America.

 

So where do we go from here you may be asking and my answer is I don’t know.