At a time when hundreds of millions of photos are shared every day on social networks, the main source of information for 15-34 year olds (1), the question arises of knowing how to read an image. This is what “Point de vue” offers, a mini-series to learn how to decipher news photos.
Visible for free on the YouTube channel of the magazine “Phosphore”, these short videos take up the questions most frequently asked to journalists during their speeches in middle and high school: is the photo always good proof? Does it often happen to remove people from a photo? Does the demo photo take sides? Is the press photo complacent towards the powerful? Do photographers often take risks? Does the media really have to show it all? Is the caption of a photo essential?
The turn of the question
Efficient and educational, these videos cover the issue in 3 to 4 minutes, supporting examples. Thus, this pathetic image of a polar bear adrift on an island of ice floe that you have surely come across if you surf the Web a little bit or frequent social networks …
This image, which has become emblematic to warn about the real consequences of global warming, is actually a montage made by an illustration photography agency. The agency clearly indicates that it is a photomontage but this mention, from sharing to sharing, has disappeared.
Sold at a ridiculous price, these images referred to as stock photography and originally intended for digital marketing are increasingly found associated with journalistic content.
One image can hide another
Another example, this photo of an Afghan family on which we identify at first glance, the father of the family surrounded by his wife, their very young son and his big sister. However, legend tells us that it is not his daughter but his second wife, aged 13, himself at 46!
This photo was taken by photojournalist Stéphanie Sinclair, as part of a long-term work denouncing forced marriages. The received idea that an image would be worth a thousand words has been demolished, a single photo not being able to testify to the richness and complexity of reality.
On the occasion of the school press week and in addition to these videos, David Groison, editor-in-chief of “Phosphore”, hosted a live of about twenty minutes, visible in replay, to help adolescents sharpen their critical gaze. Using a dozen questions, he offers them to decipher a dozen recent award-winning news photos, recalling in passing that the images also have a grammar, a writing, effects of style, a sense of reading and that there is no neutral image.
Simple and precious compass, this analysis grid is to be kept in mind to know how to read between the pixels of photos and find your way in the jungle of images.