Photography

Susan Sontag analyzes the function of photographs, defining a photograph as a captured experience. She says that to photograph is to place yourself in a certain relation to the world, as if using the photograph as acquired knowledge. We have the choice to take a photograph, honing in on what exactly is worth looking at. This creates a power play as we have the power to freeze a moment, thus possessing it in the form of a photograph.

This is a photo of my cousin Mathiew I took over the summer, in Lebanon. My cousin is 9 years-old and claimed to be a huge Brazil fan for the World Cup, like all his friends.. Lebanon takes after much of the rest of the world and joins in on the World Cup craze, creating huge yet friendly rivalries. Here, he is wearing a Brazil jersey I gifted him and also the Germany jacket his father gave him; his father works abroad and doesn’t get to see his kids much, so they cherish what they can of him when he’s away. Mathiew wanted to support his father, a Germany fan, as Germany was playing a game yet also show his loyalty to Brazil. The irony in the moment was astounding, and I had to capture it.

In insisting on taking a photo, I see Sontag’s article come into play. I exercised my power to capture ethe moment, using it as knowledge from my summer that I can look back on as I have for this assignment. While my cousin put his Germany jacket over the Brazil jersey instinctively and without thinking, by choosing to photograph it, I made an event out of the moment. Sontag also identifies photography as lying between art and truth; in making it an event, perhaps this could be perceived as art, but I see it as a truth of what occurred over the summer, just capturing the moment.

Jack Halberstam exercised queer photography as a way to demonstrate authenticity in identity, capturing identity as a performance. His collection features various people in a raw, real way, giving them authority over what may otherwise be classified as weirdness.

I see the backstory of why my cousin decided to wear what he did as speaking to Halberstam’s point to demonstrate authenticity. To me, the photograph symbolizes Mathiew’s youth – going along with the Brazil hype for the fun of the World cup – as well as his internal struggle to cling to what he can of his father – wearing Germany garb despite claiming he hates the team. Perhaps that cannot be well-represented in the photograph, but this is the meaning I see that helps me relate it to Halberstam’s intentions in his photography.

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Posted: October 17, 2014
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