- Photo and the specific social context
This black-and-white photo was taken on August 14th, 1945. It was photographed by Alfred Eisensataedt and was taken with a Leica Illa.
When I firstly look at the photo, it seems that a couple is sweetly kissing at the Times Square. However, actually, they didn’t know each other before. It was simply a coincidence that this couple-like posture was captured. The man in the photo is a jubilant American sailor and the woman is a nurse. The sailor “clutched the nurse in an in a back-bending, passionate kiss as he vents his joy while thousands jam Times Square to celebrate the long awaited-victory over Japan.” To see the sailor’s action from a different age, he might get into big trouble: he must be accused of sexual assault by people who are determined to fight for women’s equality. But his rudeness was forgiven by the surrounding pedestrians or even the whole country, because of the specific historical context—V-J Day. People love to see such a scene and Edith Shain, who claimed to be the nurse in the photo was invited to be at the 2008 Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C. It to some degree proves that photos are framed by their uses and reception.
2. Photo’s function of recording history
This was taken on the morning of November 10, 1989, recording the exciting moment that the first section Berlin Wall is pushed down by the hands of crowds of determined people.
Photos have deep roots in recording and witnessing historical events. Digitalization makes old important photos more likely to be disseminated. Just type “BERLIN” in gettyimages.com, you will get many similar photos that show how people celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. Each photo of the Berlin Wall appearing in the research result have meaning in relation to other images. Those photos together are trying to renovate the atmosphere of that time. For people who didn’t experience the exact period of history time, the digital version of old photos stored in internet platform could be regarded as the interface, through which they can have more sense of how the real history was like.
3. Photo in the digital era
I took this photo by using iPhone 6s. The man in the photo is an American young singer named Greyson Chance.
His live show in DC9 Nightclub in Washington, D.C. was the starting point of his new album tour. I took this photo standing right before the stage when he was singing. After the live show, I uploaded a series of his live show photos and videos on Weibo. Surprisingly within less a day, I got over 1000 notifications saying that my photos or videos were re-twitted or commented or liked by other strange Users. The development of digital camera gives rise to paparazzi and fan culture. Initially, media provides a range of perfect platforms for photos to be noticed. But nowadays photos are now being using to attracting audiences for media. Even though photos are actually the repetition of daily life, they provide audiences with more visual shock than bucks of characters or letters. Familiar with the feature of photographs, some fans are aware of the opportunity of earning money by shooting famous stars. They followed their idols everywhere, took photos, edit them by using software, and finally printing them as photobooks in secret and sell to other fans. This behavior actually violates stars’ individual portrait right but is always connived in the fan culture.
Martin Irvine, “Introduction to Photography and the Optical Image” https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SIT4ETfmTAx0OPnwfC7rnEQtZQkBRzWf/view
Alan Buckingham, Photography. New York: DK, 2004. Excerpts. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxfe3nz80i2GZGxxeDEzUlFhUlU/view
“V-J Day in Times Square” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-J_Day_in_Times_Square#Claiming_to_be_the_sailor
American Sailor Kisses White-Uniformed Nurse on V-J Day – Alfred Eisenstaedt https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/jubilant-american-sailor-clutching-a-white-uniformed-nurse-news-photo/53375610
Fall Of The Wall Revisited – Tom Stoddart https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/the-first-section-of-the-berlin-wall-is-pushed-down-by-the-news-photo/555357471