Exercise 2: Newspaper Analysis
Cut out some pictures from a newspaper and write your own captions.
1. How do the words you put next to the image contextualise/re-contextualise it?
2. How many meanings can you give to the same picture?
A key learning from this exercise was the malleability of photographs and how easily, with the combination of words and text, they can be manipulated. Granted some images are easier to do this with than others. For example, in the case of the Boris Johnson photograph it plays strongly into the argument that he cant be trusted, is a jester etc-it’s not a flattering photograph to start with-an example of a newspaper driving its agenda? however, the photo lends itself to many headlines.
In the photo of a Yorkshire barber (and the current focus on racism in Yorkshire) I took the element of the subjects fist-in a black glove and clenched- and added a headline that included ‘fight’ in it to imply violence and menace. This changes the meaning and focus of the article from one of conscious and subconscious racism and acceptance to implied or pending violence.
The image of the teen acquitted for the double killing of two people during an anti-racist demonstration is completely transformed by the headline that goes with it; ‘Rally Killer Freed by Jury’ implies he is a killer and was somehow freed by a jury-his guilt is assumed and his tears seem hollow.
As images are so malleable the amount of meanings is almost infinite. The freezing of the moment, the accompanying text and changing of the context, the viewers subjective view, lends to meanings that are fluid and open to interpretation. However, the one constant in all this is the photograph-it hasn’t changed-it was reproduced faithfully by the camera but the eco-system that photos live in leaves them open to manipulation.