Date of Award

Spring 4-19-2017

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Visual & Performing Arts; College of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Elizabeth Ferrell

Abstract

Photography has a long history of criticism stemming from its ability to capture an exact physical likeness of an object. The purpose of documentary photography has always been to use images as visual evidence of a situation in order to raise awareness or incite change. Since the 1970s, documentary photography has evolved into an art form on top of being a manner of documentation. Instead of being a strictly scientific style of photography, the photographer now adds an overtly artistic touch. Photography has become a method of documentation as untrustworthy as painting, and as a result, the truthfulness of documentary photographs is constantly in question. In a time when photographs can be taken by anyone and can be so easily be manipulated by current technologies, professional documentary photographers have to develop methods that allow them to stand out while not detracting from the truthfulness of their images. Richard Mosse, using color infrared film, and Benjamin Lowy, using night vision goggles and a Humvee window, are doing just that. They use unconventional methods to negotiate the faults of their predecessors and reinvigorate a medium in decline. They do this while enlightening an apathetic Western audience on complex situations. Mosse and Lowy have made significant strides in responding to the criticisms of their practice. Their repurposing of aesthetic appeal, consciousness of their actions and impact, and acknowledgement of being outsiders are a start towards positive improvement in documentary photography.

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