the wake of the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal, we are aware more
than ever of the power of photographs. Photographs have the power
to freeze time and to evoke emotions even more powerfully than
are not simply mirrors of reality. They are documents that need
to be read and interpreted. Many people assume that a snapshot
is an accurate, totally objective copy of a moment in time. This
view is wrong. A photograph is a selective recording and interpretation
of a visual scene. Understanding the degree of photographic manipulation
is necessary to evaluate any particular image. Photographs do
not lie, but the truths they communicate are elusive.
our history, Americans have been deeply uneasy about visual images.
Our Puritan ancestors had a taboo about graven images, icons,
and mirrors. Before the end of the 18th century, there were very
few paintings, drawings, or visual images in America. Ours was
a cultural of words, not of images.
of photography in the mid-19th century made images an integral
part of American life. Today, it is more important than ever to
develop visual literacy and understand how to “read”