In what could be a small followup to Joerg Colberg’s earlier apprehension of black and white documentary style photography, Martin Parr’s penned a pithy analysis of handout photos provided by pop-singer Madonna from her recent attempt to adopt a child in Malawi.
Choosing sepia is all to do with trying to make the image look romantic and idealistic. It’s sort of a soft version of propaganda. … This predilection for sepia is all part of the baggage we have about photography … people seem to think it looks more real.” -Martin Parr
As media outlets dwindle, the majority of the viewing public’s connection with visual communication will increasingly be the province of handouts, PR shots, and propaganda, if it hasn’t already. While some might lament the failings of the mainstream media, one hopes newsrooms endeavour to hold themselves to a higher and less manipulative visual language than a publicity campaign. Analyses such as Parr’s here are necessary to the understanding of what we’re shown.
And while we’re at it, Randy Cohen, of the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s regular “The Ethicist” column (my favorite magazine column, next to Harper’s Index and Harper’s Weekly Review), analyzes the ethical concerns of international adoption for his new NYT blog “Moral of the Story.”