Sunday, June 7, 2015

Jung Eun(201200741) / Reaction Essay (Three great elements that shape our views on Photos / Thurs 56

Reaction Essay / Jung Eun, Kim(201200741) / Chinese Linguistics




Reaction Essay / Jung Eun, Kim(201200741) / Chinese Linguistics



Three great elements that shape our views on photos


Taking a closer look at the two pictures can evoke an emotional response from the viewer. A starving girl who is on the brink of death and a fleshy eagle waiting for her death in the first picture depict how devastating the 1994 famine was in Africa. Even though the picture, "A starving girl in Sudan" won the Pulitzer's Prize in 1994, its photographer Kevin Carter committed suicide after a public backlash for his unethical behavior in taking a photo over helping a girl, first. Second picture in which an apprentice lineman breathe life into the mouth of another apprentice who is hung unconscious for receiving an electric shock after contacting with a hot wire atop the utility pole captures the moment of life and death. "Kiss of Life" which was taken by Rocco Morabito in 1968 also won the Pulitzer's Prize but received the critical acclaim around the world. Why is this? And although two pictures share similar theme, both photographs display a transparency of mood reflected in the central figures and background. Then let us find out three elements that seem to differentiate our views on photographs.


In "A starving girl in Sudan", a dying girl and somewhat an appalling eagle are the central figures in the picture. A girl appears to have run out of energy that she can't even lift her head. Seeing her little body cowered in despair aches the viewer's heart. The contrast between an appearance of a girl who seems to be a bag of bones and the predator's expression, showing eagerness to wait for its meal elicit further emotional response. Even though the background is relatively brighter than the two central figures, the backdrop of the photo appears to be bleak and desolate. The land which doesn't seem to grow any crops but grass make the mood of the picture much gloomier. The contrast between the protruding bones of the little girl and the fatty eagle with pointed beak make the viewer uncomfortable to see.  


In "Kiss of Life", an apprentice lineman is doing everything in his power to save his crew who has lost consciousness from electric shock. Contrary to the first picture, the second one is at the backdrop of the top of the pole where two central figures are relying nothing but on leather straps amid electric lines that pass aside them. The mood is imminent, nervous and heart-moving. Contrary to the first picture whose central figures were a dying child and an eagle who waits for her death, central figures in the second one are a dying man and a savior. In this respect, the relation between the two central figures in the picture plays a crucial role in arousing viewer's feelings. Furthermore, the texture of clothing as well as hale and hearty looking figures in the second one make it less uncomfortable for the viewers to see than the first picture.



Both photographs have a theme of 'a moment of life and death' in common. However, their mood shown through central figures and background is polar opposite. The kind of relation which we perceive between two central figures in the first photograph leave us profound feelings. The bleak and deathly land also add desolation to the mood of the viewers. On the contrary, the victim and savior relation of the two central figures in the second picture give the viewer hope and a comfortable sense. The top of the pole background adds urgency and nervousness of the mood. Given two pictures, we can also conclude that viewers have inclination to put themselves under the circumstance of the photographs. In the second photograph for instance, viewers might have considered themselves as really watching the dramatic scene from the ground which explains the reason for feeling deeply moved by the photo.  Likewise, viewers might have put themselves under the girl's circumstance in the second picture. Naturally, we all feel like running to assist her at hand but obviously nothing can be undone. Therefore, we came to question the morality of the photographer for having taken the picture at the moment of life and death. In this respect, we can assume the power of photographs that impact upon us is unimaginable. This suggests that not only central figures and background that matter but also our tendency in viewing photos also exert great influence on how we perceive them.  


(Those who can't view the photos, please click '')


  1. Hello I am your classmate Seohee, first I really enjoyed your post, your photographs really caught my attention!! And about your essay, it completes the 5 paragraphs also your thesis statement has your clear point of view. Your topic sentences are supporting your position on the body paragraphs and your details as expressing the mood and texture made a complete explanation about the pictures and the conclusion has stated the issue which was great. Thanks for your essay!!

  2. hello im your classmate, I enjoyed your essay. While I read, I got curious about your topic and search the picture with a black crow. it is really cruel , on the contrary, the other picture is peaceful. you did better work in contrasting two pictures. It was so clear that I could enjoy your essay. thnks.