Photography allows us be anyone we want to be and to share that vision of ourselves in the most believable way. A professional, buttoned-down photo on LinkedIn. A picture that says “I’m cute and fun!” on a dating website. A wholesome photo playing with a puppy sent to our grandparents. A pouty selfie in a steamed up mirror to someone we are hoping to entice. Are you feeling dark? Or angelic? What side of ourselves do we want to present and exaggerate? Through photography, we can show others a vision that may be completely divorced from reality. Or, at the very least, that is a filtered version of reality. It allows us to trick people. In this way, photography is similar to the spirit of my favorite holiday - Halloween.
Historically, photography has been based in the idea of realty. It allowed the traditional mediums - painting and drawing for example - to move away from depicting the world as it is and into a conceptual presentation of ideas and emotions. But even before modern manipulations like photoshop and CG created images of unworldly perfection, this has been a misconception. Photography has never been a pure and accurate depiction of reality. This medium has always been as reliant on the perspective of the artist as any other art form; all elements of art and composition still come into play: angles, lighting, concept... divorcing it from reality on some level. The artist’s hand is ever present, and even in depicting reality, the image we see is the photographer’s perception of the world, not an unbiased view.
But it is this mistaken notion - that an image captures what is really there - that gives photography its ability to deceive and thus what makes the medium so special and so powerful. We can explore our boundaries in a way that fools people. It is a medium that triggers emotion and fantasy like nothing else. Because even if we know what we see is not reality.... if we want to believe it is, we very easily can. We love being able to harbor these fantasies of what we think is true. After all, sometimes it’s fun to be deceived.