Looking at the multilayered readings of advertising is interesting and has made me think about my own work and how it may be read by the viewer.
As photographers we tend to produce images with an intended message or at least an inferred message. Often the viewer will impart their own thoughts and ideas onto an image, sometimes going beyond the original intention of the image. Some images are indeed just a record of what is in front of the lens. The increase of Social Media has added to this as more and more people photograph everyday things without added meaning (Oosterhoff, 2018).
However context is often important to the reading of an image and this is most evident when looking at advertising.
”the reason I take pictures is because I get angry about things that are happening. And I want them to change. ” Marcus Bleasdale (Duckrabbit, 2018)
This is quite often the intent behind conflict photography and it is often used to advertise charitable organisations and anti war campaigns. However when Lockheed Martin used an image by Ron Haviv in an ad campaign the image was being used in a different context.
The question in this case is the difference in intentions between the photograph when taken by Haviv and the subsequent use by Lockheed Martin to promote arms sales. Given Ron Haviv's primary role as a photojournalist the image would have carried an anti war sentiment. The burning wreckage at the end of the tracks could never be construed as a good thing, unless presented in the way in the advert (Shaw, 2018).
I don't think in this case the advert works as intended by Lockheed Martin, presenting a positive spin on an image that conveys death and destruction. Although with the target audience being Defence contractors that might be an acceptable reading.
At leas the adverts from BAE with also use Haviv's images present an air of serene that in some warped way their products create a more serene environment for troops.
Within my own work I try not to have intentions within individual images, and in fact I only introduce any intentions through presentation. In some cases images may look to convey feelings and maybe a sense of freedom and wonderment. Possibly I would also say that within my practice I try to convey a sense of curiosity. Hopefully the viewer will be drawn in to my images by a curiosity to explore the ambiguous nature of the photograph, whilst I also hope that my own curiosity comes across in the images.
Daido Moriyama often talks about his unabated curiosity for the everyday and even the mundane, which potentially elevates his work above "just" snapshots (Vartanian, Hatanaka and Kanbayashi, 2006). It is interesting that in Japanese photography "Curiosity" is often cited as a theme within work. The work of Rinko Kawauchi is one that comes to mind, the work is often of mundane objects or even abstract, but there is an essence of curiosity that comes through the work, making the viewer want to explore the image (Maggia, 2017). This is something that I am trying to promote through my work. I think that presentation is the key for my work. Using different methods of presentation I can potentially infer things like narrative and even play around presenting the same images, but with different narratives.
Duckrabbit (2018). @VIIphoto agency, Ron Haviv and the world's two largest arms producers - duckrabbit. [online] duckrabbit. Available at: https://www.duckrabbit.info/2012/05/vii-photo-agency-ron-haviv-and-the-worlds-two-largest-arms-producers/ [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].
Maggia, F. (2017). NEW JAPANESE PHOTOGRAPHY. [S.l.]: SKIRA.
Oosterhoff, D. (2018). How to Read a Photograph. [online] Photo & Video Envato Tuts+. Available at: https://photography.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-read-a-photograph--cms-25495 [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].
Shaw, M. (2018). War Enabling: Duckrabbit vs. Haviv and VII in a Larger Context - Reading The Pictures. [online] Reading The Pictures. Available at: https://www.readingthepictures.org/2012/05/war-enabling-duckrabbit-vs-haviv-vii-in-a-larger-context/ [Accessed 19 Mar. 2018].
Vartanian, I., Hatanaka, A. and Kanbayashi, Y. (2006). Setting sun. New York: Aperture.