Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography

Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography



The Pequod Review:

Believing is Seeing is a beautifully designed book with excellent photographs, however Errol Morris's thesis — that photographs by their nature both reveal and conceal information — is supported with examples that are obvious and unenlightening. Nonetheless, there are a handful of interesting sections:

Photography presents things and at the same time hides things from our view, and the coupling of photography and language provides an express train to error.... All alone—shorn of context, without captions—a photograph is neither true nor false…. For truth, properly considered, is about the relationship between language and the world, not about photographs and the world.

If you want to trick someone with a photograph, there are lots of easy ways to do it. You don’t need Photoshop. You don’t need sophisticated digital photo-manipulation. You don’t need a computer. All you need to do is change the caption.

People often trust low-res images because they look more real. But of course they are not more real, just easier to fake… You never see a 10-megapixel photograph of Big Foot or the Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness Monster. 

And this on the famous Abu Ghraib photographs from the Iraq War:

One of the incredibly deep ironies is that the photographs could serve as both an exposé and as a cover-up. That they would encourage people not to look any further and make them think they had seen everything.