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Blinded by the light: the violence of flash photography

 
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Susan Sontag was deliberately provocative when she coupled photography with violence. There is, she wrote in the essay ‘In Plato’s Cave’ (1977), ‘something predatory in the act of taking a picture’. She pointed out that we speak casually about ‘loading’ and ‘aiming’ a camera: ‘Just as the camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a sublimated murder.’ Sontag knew that she was using hyperbole, prodding her readers to consider the seizing of someone else’s identity that is implicit in each portrait that is shot.

But it is decidedly less of an exaggeration to couple violence with one particular photographic technology: flash. From the earliest decades of flash photography... {read more}

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