St. Louis Commercial Photography

What does it take for you to question what you see?

Written by Michelle Havens
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

What does it take for you to question what you see? With digital media, there has never been a greater stake in the power of visual manipulation.

We may have reached the skeptic’s tipping point with video and photography.

With quick and easy digital manipulation tools, we have become a jaded and skeptical audience. When was the last time you heard the term “trick photography”? Photographic slight of hand has now been replaced with the term “photoshopped” even by people that have never pushed a pixel in their life. We all know pretty much all photography used in mass media is “trick photography”. But who cares right? Make it pretty = sell more fizzy sexy water.

fake ny tornadoWhy are we so easily swayed by the power of fake imagery? Whether it’s YouTube videos, reality TV, UFO documentaries, paranormal activity style movies or the latest ambush interview on your local TV news, why are we still so gullible? Let’s break this down a bit.

By definition, all visual media posits a point of view (POV). It describes the entry point of the shared experience with the artist, camera, or videographer (or monkey cam). The term can be used literally as the frame, camera angle or the “position of the viewer” and that viewer means you. This is a powerful persuasion linked to our lizard brains as direct experience. At that point, it’s not that the lizard brain doesn’t make a judgment - it’s makes a judgment that what it sees is true. That doesn’t mean that it is informed by fact, balanced or critical thought.

The ironic part is low budget, hand-made, even cell phone videos can often feel closer to physical truth telling than big special effects movies. This is connected to the history we have with that POV as well as some assumptions of the skills & budget of the creator to screw with us.

But as any student of film or journalism knows, the term POV can also be used to frame the mindset of the storyteller – as in a Michael Moore documentary or a Glenn Beck news report. How does your viewer experience change if you are told a film is based on a true story?

Here is where things get sticky and interesting. The POV of our low budget hidden cam, edited to fit the POV of the storyteller just screws with our human lizard brains. We just believe because…well, lizard brain!

I love 60 Minutes. They do a great job for a TV magazine, but I also loved the 60 Min interview spoofs that a sweating Martin Short did on SNL. As a producer of these corporate shoots, I always smile when I ask to powder a forehead.

This article is inspired by the improbable mashup of the work of Husseri, Heidegger (phenomenology) and Seth Godin (lizard brain). I invite anyone interested in this fascinating topic to read more.

For more information on phenomenology:
A method of philosophical enquiry developed by Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), modified by Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), and reinterpreted in France by, among others, Marcel, Ricœur and, notably, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty

Read more:

Read 482804 times Last modified on Friday, 13 March 2020 20:14


Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.