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Changes in Perception and Use of Photographs


Photography represents one of the most fast evolving domains, which is manifested in terms of the application of its individual elements. Part of the reason for this fast spread is attributed to the pursuit of photography as an art and human passion. Due to the unique feelings a photograph is bound to initiate among different persons, this implies that numerous perceptions exist regarding photography. This brings in the concept of perception, which for a long time has been misunderstood by many professionals especially with regard to the use of photography in the contemporary world. These changes in perception have partly been initiated by the improvements visible in the field of photography, which can be seen in the form of technology, production, quality, and medium. Thus it is important to analyze elements of changing perception in individuality and correlates their relative impact upon the interpretation of photography. This serves to portray the depth to which changes in photography are being realized prompting the development of a new cycle of thematic concerns.

Changes in Perception and Use of Photographs

Photography Promoting Growth of the Pornography Industry

The changing platform of the phenomenal Worldwide Web has led to development of a sprawling pornography industry. This growth is attributed to the changing human adult perception regarding the utilization of the nude photographs showing sexual activity. More adults have gradually turned into addictive consumers of pornography leading to increased coverage in terms of content. This is partly because equal and easy access to the internet pornography market guarantees diversity of content (Bennett, 2001). Moreover, the pornography has recently adopted a reality concept to it. The improvement in infrastructural support on internet services has also lead to the thriving of the pornography market. Presently, all website addresses are equal due to elimination of property taxes, rent, mortgage, city licenses to purchase, and no physical location requirements (Bennett, 2001). As a result, photographers in the internet industry are exploiting these loopholes to satisfy the consumers' demands.

The Phenomenal Paparazzi Operations and their Impact on Privacy

Innovations in the photography have significantly supported operations of paparazzi in both the medieval and present worlds.  For a long time, the paparazzi operations have concentrated more on celebrity lifestyles.  Most celebrities tend to like their pictures being taken while attending public events, awards, and shows due to the benefit of free publicity('California law has paparazzi shuddering', 1998). However, they exhibit negative sentiments whenever their photographs are taken under private circumstances. For example, paparazzi are known to peek through windows amid other worse exploits it has been affirmed by actor Michael J. Fox that the paparazzi made attempts to pose as medical personnel when his wife was undergoing delivery at the hospital ('California law has paparazzi shuddering', 1998). This portrays a blatant attempt at infringing into the privacy of celebrities by applying some of the most deplorable tactics. This has led to the formulation of legislative measures aimed at preventing these events from happening; for example, this can be seen in the case of the California law.

The Role of Photography in Addressing Press Freedom

Press freedom has evolved into one of the most controversial topics in the present setting of the society. Numerous attempts have been made to stifle press freedom through institution of legislative frameworks, which are specifically focused on the application of photography in media setting. Different perspectives exist among the legislators on the appropriateness of some of these legislations with regard press freedom. "Many judges and law makers disagree with this fallacious line of reasoning, not based on facts. They feel that nes photography in the courtrooms would bring to the American public more accurate reports of the tribunals, bur few of these dare to oppose the old die-hards by publicly favoring press photography" (Costa, 1999). In a bid to protect the interests of the media, technology has evolved leading to the development of new modes of taking photographs in restricted environments.

The role of photography in modern day surveillance and emerging issues of privacy

Commercial institutions, organizations and corporate entities are increasingly relying upon modern surveillance systems amid arising concerns on insecurity. Initially, surveillance was seen as a positive element towards addressing insecurity and for a long time no one bothered to object. "There is little doubt that new video technologies can provide a powerful new tool in capturing dangerous criminals. For this reason, society has already become largely accepting of video surveillance at ATMs, government buildings, and other areas where security is a prime concern" (Gelbord & Roelofsen, 2002). However, perception is changing regarding the infringement of privacy from the application of surveillance systems. This is especially attributed to the technological progress that has been made in enhancing the efficacy of the systems.

Historical Evolution of Photography and its Strategic Use to Expose Societal Issues in the Press

During the early 19th century the photography was largely used as a tool to expose the society ills. Members of the society embraced the idea primarily because of the focus on ills committed by influential personalities. Soon, the photographers started exploiting this loophole as an investigative approach. This was largely enabled by the by development of faster photographic emulsions that led the mass production of practical hand cameras that could be used to take the picture of the subject without him recognizing the presence of the camera  (Hiley, 1993). Some of the investigative approaches proved to be effective in getting the most hidden details of information. For example, by 1906 Edward VII received a lot of attention  such that he could hardly go on any outdoor events without facing confrontation from a battery of cameras  intended to photograph him; but, in one incident one determined cameraman made a local arrangement with Edward VII's  bread delivery boy to get candid photographs of the king's family at their Sandringham residence, during which the camera was hidden among the loaves, and using this strategy he was able to get magnificent photos of the King's children (Hiley, 1993). These achievements were enabled by the modification of cameras in the most creative forms. For instance, "tabloid photographers made use of technical ingenuity with devices such as the 'walking-stick camera' (Hiley, 1993).

The existence of an unclear legislative description regarding the precise boundaries to which the pressmen can be allowed to operate using photography sparks a controversial debate. This has led to emergence of the view that photographers are merely exploiting the gaps within the legal framework to push forth with their activities. As an attorney specializing in the First Amendment law commented in the Daily News Article, "Usually, the charges don't stick. Your right to privacy primarily depends on your location, not your anatomy. It's not illegal to take photographs of people in public. If you're in public, you don't have a legitimate expectation of privacy" (Jones, 2002). Hence, under such unclear circumstances photographers feel that they are legally entitled to their activities. In another instance, prosecutors in some states have had no option but to rely on the provisions stipulated by general voyeurism laws that are essentially intended to protect the privacy of someone from taking pictures s when one is in a place deemed to be private (Jones, 2002). However, conflicting views still exist regarding the appropriateness of legal interpretations on the subject of taking photographs under private circumstances.

Technology Revolution of the Camera, Protection of inventions and Privacy.

The inclusion of camera in other nontraditional gadgets has led to a change of perception regarding their proper use. Good examples include leaders in the mobile phone industry like General Motors, Dell and Samsung. The companies have policies restricting employees from carrying camera phones into their sensitive research and production facilities with an aim of preventing the occurrence of corporate espionage (Miranda, 2005). The use of camera phones is also leading to increasing fears in educational settings. As a result, most schools have banned their use in school settings to control cheating, because most students have previously been caught shooting test questions then sending them to others in the form of e-mails (Miranda, 2005).

The Photography in Child Pornography and Emerging Question of its Social ills

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Recently, there has been an emerging concern regarding the use of photographs to produce child pornography material. As a result, the level of degradation of moral values in the society has been put to question. Child pornography is perceived as subversive of the moral order, while it is perceived as political speech in the public domain; hence, this has a negative impact on the level of legitimacy it has from an ideological, political or social viewpoint (Mirkin, 2009). This has only served to complicate the society's view on its appropriateness. "The court's decisions accept the premises of the legislatures and assume that the youths suffer great harm of they are involved in making child pornography" (Mirkin, 2009). Due to this, pictures of child pornography have continued to flood the market with no one raising a keen eyebrow

Digital Photography Technology and its Fears

The recent upsurge of digital photography portrays an increasing preference for the new systems over old analog photography techniques. As a result, the U.S. State Department is planning to introduce a new passports system that will make use of embedded digital photos, while federal researchers, privacy proponents and industry experts are against this idea because of the face recognition technology has been established to have a significant error rate ('Experts Dispute Passport Plan', 2004). Nevertheless, supports of the new system see it as a positive move towards the appreciation of technology in the American society. Further research shows that error rates of face-recognition technology are as high as 50% especially when taken under poor lighting conditions and are promoting the adoption of the better fingerprint biometrics ('Experts Dispute Passport Plan', 2004). Despite the perceive error rates digital technology is taking the application of photography to different heights.


The changes in the perception of photography have led to the creation of different functions of photography in different levels and circumstances. Some of the critical perceptions regarding the use of photography include: the promotion of growth of the pornography Industry; the increase in paparazzi operations and their impact on privacy; the role of photography in addressing press freedom; the application of photography by the police to fight pornography; the role of photography in modern day surveillance and emerging issues of privacy; historical evolution of photography and its strategic use to expose societal issues in the press; the legal dilemma in the question of privacy; technology revolution of the camera, protection of inventions and privacy; photography in child pornography and emerging question of its social ills; and digital photography technology and its fears. In essence, amid changing perceptions society still appears to develop the best uses of photography with an aim of improving human liberties, improving accountability, sharing good moments and developing new frontiers in the modern society.

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