Good or Bad?

In order to help us with our critical analysis skills we have been asked to find 2 images, one that is good and one that is bad. However I feel that the parameters are too rigid to apply to something so subjective. As a result I have chosen two images, one that I like and one that I do not like and have attempted to explain my reasoning alongside.

Good Image

Duane Michals - Salvation
Duane Michals – Salvation

This image appeals to me on a personal level as I passionately support the message that it is saying. Religion, in the majority of its guises is a reprehensible and grotesque blight on humanity. Historically it has been a brutal way to claim power and subjugate populations through violence and torture and these methods are still commonplace today. Duane Michals image targets the largest of the monotheistic organisations and as a gay man growing up in a Christian fanatical nation he would have witnessed first hand the intolerance and cruelty that it can inspire in seemingly reasonable people. It is from this and the churches insistence that it holds a moral high ground and that it can dictate and force its belief onto others that inspired Michals to create this image. The strongest symbolism comes through the use of the cross pressed against the temple of the man like some sort of pistol, a representation of the threats and intimidation employed by the church to recruit and control its victims. At the same time the person dressed in the ecclesiastical apparel has placed his arm around his shoulder in a gesture of friendship but also of control. The expressions also add to the story with the first man lost in thought, caught between the seemingly unassailable power wielded by the church through constant proselytization and social pressures imposed by the brainwashed community. Duane Michals also added text to his image, perhaps to ensure that his message was understood although I feel that his communication is very clear.

Bad Image

Michael Nichols - Charging Elephant
Michael Nichols – Charging Elephant – 1993

Michal Nichols, A keen environmentalist is a photographer for National Geographic and a former member of Magnum. He is a person that above all else prefers to work in isolation and as a result he seeks out the most secluded areas on the planet to capture his images. This particular image was taken in the Central African Republic in 1993. The main reason why this image did not appeal to me was due to it being so blurry, if it had been captured in focus then the site of this magnificent beast, charging through the shallow waters of the stream would have been very impressive. The hurried composition and lack of focus takes the edge away from the intimidating sight of such a beast moving at a frenzied speed through its natural habitat.

Conclusion

This was a tricky mini assignment to complete. Choosing a photograph I admire and enjoy was simple and I had no hesitation going straight to the Duane Michals image. The second part, choosing an image to criticise was particularly difficult. initially I picked a random image from the Flickr website that someone untrained or still learning camera techniques and composition had taken and was going to remark upon that, however I felt that this was simply unfair and could not in good conscience condemn that image. As a result I chose someone who is already a well established and highly regarded photographer to attempt my critic. It is also worth noting here that I do actually like the image with the elephant and that the blur adds to the feeling of motion and intensity that would have been evident at the time the shot was taken. When you also consider that Michal Nicholls stepped out of his hiding place and not far from where this unrestrained behemoth was heading and could have easily altered his direction to charge directly towards the photographer and still captured the image it is no wonder that there is a little camera shake.

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