The Still Image's Effect on Collective Conscience

In its infancy, photography, like any new technology, was rudimentary, misunderstood, and somewhat of an elitist pursuit. The first photographs didn’t have widespread, rhetorical power because it was a new tool and not easily accessible. Over time, the world learned to trust the new phenomenon as undeniable truth and a means to capture what words or art endeavors could not. Once people began to understand it and use it as a tool against deceit, it did have powerful impacts on positive sociocultural and political realities. Nevertheless, culture eventually became oversaturated with photographs due to ever-advancing technology that stripped it of its “authoritarian” position, and nowadays photography can no longer be considered a dependable tool for change the way it has been used in the past. With that being said, I can visualize an “arc” of sorts over the history of cameras and photography—a rising action of establishment in cultural climate; a climax of profoundness; and, ultimately, a rapid period during which photographs dwindled into overly common, politically non-influential, ordinary part of culture. In other words, photographs have been stripped of their rhetorical power and hold no more sway than any other form of communciation.


Louise Ho