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From Single Images... To Personal Statements

new internationalist
issue 185 - July 1988

From single images...
...to personal statements

Click here to see the whole image. [image, unknown]

'GOOD' photographs go beyond illustration: they make a statement. And just as statements in English are produced by combining one word with another (e.g. racism is wrong) so photographic statements can be made up by combining different, usually contrasting, images.

Each of the contrasting elements in a successful photograph of this type has to be fairly simple and unambiguous. Children are clear symbols of innocence and are often combined with other striking elements, such as soldiers or harsh surroundings, to produce strong statements.

The picture above is unremarkable: it would not normally be published. But the image has in fact been extracted from a larger photograph. If you haven't already glanced below you might try to guess the context of the photograph.

Photographers seize upon such fruitful combinations of images. Sometimes they just take advantage of real-life occurrences. Occasionally they stage them.

Photo: Dexter Tirani [image, unknown]
Boy selling pornographic magazines on the streets of Manila, the Philippines. Photo: Dexter Tiranti

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