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Published:April 3rd, 2008 14:49 EST
Media Is The Masses: Picture Imperfect

Media Is The Masses: Picture Imperfect

By Sean Stubblefield

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

But we should ask ? clarify-- which words?

It has also been said that photographs don`t lie. Maybe not.

But perspective and interpretations may be deceptive.

The perspective within a picture (of any kind, still and motion), and our perspective while perceiving and considering the image can be misleading or misconstrued.

And not always intentionally.

We tend to imbue and project our biases, expectations and experience into our interpretations.

Plus, what we see "or think we see or seem to see "isn`t always or necessarily what we are actually looking at. As the illusions of prestidigitation, optical illusions and motion pictures demonstrate, what we see may not always be quite what we get "both in receiving and understanding.

Nothing is exactly as it seems. What we see with our mind may not be consistent with what we see with our eyes. What we see goes through a translation matrix filter of conceptual and ideological biases, assumptions and personal experience.

False, artificial or illusory perspective may be created or synthesized within illustrations by manipulating impressions of relative size, distance, positioning, depth, elevation, vantage, light and shadow.

What appears to be a three dimensional image actually exists in two dimensions.

Or what is, in reality, a three dimensional scene, is depicted in two dimensions.


To use a metaphor, the image in a funhouse mirror-- although a reflection-- is not an accurate representation of what is reflected. Someone who resembles another, or is made to look like another with costuming and make up, may be mistaken or confused with the other. A look-a-like or impersonator, as with what we see in a picture, could be fake or misinterpreted as the original or real thing. We can`t always take what we see for granted, at face value.

Especially since technology makes it possible to manipulate and falsify images, we shouldn`t automatically believe that what we see is genuine or authentic. Depending on the subject matter, its application and its probability, a degree of skepticism and verification may be required.


Due to variances in lighting, positioning, vantage, expression, camera type, photographer skill, creative liberties, as well as digital manipulation effects ? photographs don`t always accurately or clearly capture a person`s appearance. A person may not really look as they do in a photo.

These pictures, being still frame, depict only moments ? and are therefore partial truth.

A complete truth as a part; incomplete truth as portraying the whole. A man caught in a photograph, drawing or painting ? with his hand on a woman`s breast after stumbling into her ? may appear to be groping her. From a certain point of view, a person whispering into someone`s ear might look like that person is kissing them.

A snapshot leads to snap judgments. Be wary of jumping to conclusions based on first glances and first impressions.


Currently based in Houston Texas, Sean Stubblefield graduated Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Television Production. A philosopher poet, Stubblefield has been writing non-fiction for 15 years, and has penned eight books to date. His first book, Paradox: A Journey Inside Out is available today at

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