We see things from the wrong end. This statement has serious implications for all photography lovers.
Imagine a big ship, berthed out at sea. You notice the ship at dusk while looking out from your balcony at home. The lights on the ship are on. There is thick fog in the air. You do not recognise the ship immediately but first see the weak, shimmering lights installed on the ship. It takes you then a few seconds more to recognise that the lights are installed on a big ship, maybe one carrying cargo, berthed out at sea. Through the fog now appears unto you (whether through sight or imagination is irrelevant in this context) the ghostly form of the ship.
Let us presume the density of the fog is even throughout the distance separating you from the ship. Even so, the light emanating from the ship’s lamps will gradually lose its intensity as it makes its way, nearing your eyeballs. On a very clear day, during the daytime, with bright blue skies and radiant sunlight, you would obviously not pay any attention, nay, you would not even be cognisant, to this phenomenon, namely that light decreases in intensity as it travels through space and lands on your retinas. But this phenomenon is really ubiquitous; it happens every time an object located anywhere in space becomes a visual percept.
The human eye, just like the camera lens, receives weak, distorted information of the world out there.
So why on earth do we photograph the world? Do we perversely enjoy being duped twice?
In a previous blog post (click here to read that post) I wrote that we receive the world as a representation in order that we may come to know the world.
We photograph the world to retain a record of what we saw – we photograph to see what we saw.
In coming to accept to make wrong judgements about the world, judgements that happen to be erroneous due largely to the poor data our senses collect of the world, we come to presume with surety the existence of otherness.
Lawrence OP. 2008. Nourishing Love. Flickr [online]. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/7764201932 [accessed 8 Jan 2020]. License available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode [original image not modified].