Photography: A Critical Intro by: Liz Wells

My Response to Chapter 5 Spectacles and Illusions


For many years photography has been used to document the most significant of events, whether they affect an entire society, like fashion fashion photos which inspires people to buy. The viewer in which photos are depicted, and  photography reveals humanity in its subject, but repeated viewing make photographs less real in it context and more glamorized opposed to reality. To control the ordinary people of society, corporate media tends to serve the interest of dominant elite groups in society.


The news shapes and control opinions, information and sources simply by eliminating the most importance of the information selling part of the truth to control the general societies’ thoughts. every thing is designed to fit into the print that serves the interest of powerful elites. oif you notice the newspapers are already prewritten and confirmed before event happens. For example a the super bowl the games n media programs are already bought and paid for , elites have already decided who is going to win and it is already printed in the newspaper before the game. here is a system of shaping, control and so on which gives a certain perception of the world. I gave one example, … That has nothing to do with me, it has to do with marginalizing the public and ensuring that they don’t get in the way of elites who are supposed to run things without interference.

Reality versus Illusion

Photography is an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real.”At some supernatural or metaphysical level images are, or become, or supersede reality. Such photos are a resemblance of the real as the photograph becomes an extension of the subject.have so many images available to us of: things, places, events and people from all over the world, and of not immediate relevance to our own existence, that our expectations of what we have the right to view, want to view or should view has been drastically affected. Arguably, gone are the days that we felt entitled to view only those things in our immediate presence or that affected our micro world; we now seem to feel entitled to gain access to any existing images. “In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notion of what is worth looking at and what we have the right to observe”, said Sontag.

Glam and Desire

Advertisement and publicity is inspiring desire into others in order to get them to buy. Publicity shows the needs to be happy by presenting glamour showing off happiness because others don’t have. This ideology makes viewers envy what they see and therefore make them want to have whatever the advertiser is selling. This visual culture conveys the idea of wealth and beauty. For example just like the commercial of Cindy Crawford wearing an omega watch. Cindy signifies enduring beauty and glamour.

New York City Fashion



“Visual Anxiety”

These readings cover material that is very close to the work that I surround myself with as a fashion photographer on a daily basis. For this reason I found it very interesting to read, as well as compare to the comments that my classmates have made in reaction to the readings.

Its very true, sex sells. Its been like this for years, and it doesn’t seem like it will change any time soon. However, this is what I find so fascinating about advertisement. The body of a woman is used to sell material off of it. Viewers are literally guided to want the clothes and jewelry off of that model, one does not find a connection with the model in the image, but rather a desire for the lifestyle that the clothes accommodate her with. Over the years, an on going dispute has gone on between men and women.. to embrace this, or to fight against it?

In the essay written by Stephanie Sadre- Orafai, she describes the selection and marketing of models while circling around the idea that the body has turned into a form of media. Idioms of beauty, desirability, and justice are taken into the hands of casting directors, and it is up to them to label the young men and women that walk into their doors with who they are, and what their body could sell. Models have turned into human hangers and coat stands. Deciding what is beautiful was long pulled out of the consumers grasp, and in its place was put the dictated acceptance of “beauty” from an extremely photoshopped billboard or glossy magazine page.

The media makes money off of this “beauty”, and consumers blindingly accept that this is what they must look like in order to fit the norm or be catalogued as desirable. While advertisements are made to make you believe you are different from the rest and you are free to make your own choices, the sex behind them screams so loud its almost become too common. Viewers face sex every day, in magazines, in window displays, on billboards, on the television. Sex has almost become banal.

Yet there is such a fascination with the human body and the exploration of self, that society can’t help but react to it. (Which I personally believe is what photographers and advertisers want) Whether this be in a negative way or positive. Sure, woman are constantly being objectified in images and used as sex symbols to sell clothes off a rack, but women have also grown to WANT to be seen as a sex symbol. The models are just doing their job, they are told to pose in a sexy way, and they do it. Younger generations are now also learning to pose this way, to carry themselves in a certain way in order to fit in with their friends. Fashion is affecting the younger generations, teaching them to be a certain way through the use of photography. Images are the easiest thing for young minds to soak in, they are provoking and influential.

Who decided what beauty was? Even in the 19th century, photographs were used for exploration of the body, scientifically as well as artistically. It seems that photographs always agree on a certain body type that they want to fix into their composition, but the origin of this decision is never clear. As women allow themselves to be influences by these sex symbols they so often see in the magazines (and claim to be offended by), they constantly fall into self transformation. Whether this is to conform with who society is telling them to be, or not to be, the media has found a way to manipulate visual markers through an uneasy sense of “heightened awareness, yet distrust of appearance”. How come the origin of appearance is so rarely talked about?

The woman body is constantly exploited, willingly or not, but so is a mans. Men are constantly used as background toys or props in fashion shoots. Yet, this is not a taboo subject, and is usually put on the back burner. Using a persons body to sell something in a fashion photo is extremely interesting, but what intrigues me is the unwilling fascination that comes from the viewer.

Fashion Imaging: Gender Representation

Fashion Photography has played a big role in gender representation in today’s society. Fashion photography has exerted such big influences on the femaile population especially in creating such unrealistic expections for women of all ages. Of course that is not the only important thing about fashion photography but I wanted to focus on this issue because this has become a pretty dominant topic to be discussed. In the reading ‘Photography: Critical Introduction’ the author writes “ one of the key critcisms has been the way in which ads always represent women as objects to be surveyed. This has tended to increase the representation of women as both passive and objects of sexual desire”.

Image today has become such a dominant role for women and men today, we are so focused on self-image and the bases of those ideal images are drived from visual media. The visuals that we come in contact with today represent women as sexual objects creating unrealistic body imageries and gender roles. The body language of women in photos and what is signified in those images gives women the obligations to strive to look as similar as possible as those created imageries. Even with the knowledge that those images are falsely exeggerated we still desire to look the way they are depicted. We are in constant contat with the world of media exerting all these imageries of female in such sexual ways affecting women of all ages especially those who are younger. Younger teens focus to look like what is desirable by men because they are constatnly reminded to look and act certain ways. Magazine editorials and fashion photos play the same role in exerting those values away from being a form of art. It is impotant for us to think about these issues and I wanted to show an example, the image providedabove is a great example of photography depicting women as sexual objects and at the same time creating a social gender difference. Everything about this image exerts what is being discussed here, these two women are depicted as sexual objects and the men in the photo is almost given a higher status dressed in his suit looking gazing at the girls. This picture gives me the desire to look as those sexually depicted models with fashionable shoes on. Fashion photography and media imageries has shaped the mindsets of women to set false goals and desires. It is important for us to look into these ideas and values and not to be trapped by them.