Sunday, September 11, 2011

Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography

 Academy Award-winning documentarian filmmaker, Errol Morris (Tabloid, The Thin Blue Line), brings a unique perspective to Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography--his first book, a collection of essays--which investigates the relationship between photographs and reality.

Significant to the text are two childhood experiences that deeply affected Morris. His father died when he was very young, and Morris would only come to know him (later) through studying photographic images of him. Morris also suffered an eye ailment, which ultimately altered his visual perceptions. Thus, an inquisitive, skeptical visual philosopher emerged. Therefore, it is no wonder that Morris has undertaken a forensic examination that explores how photographs have the power to reveal and conceal and thereby, convey certain truths and frauds.

Morris dissects notable documentary photographs - a photograph of three children discovered in the hand of a unknown soldier in Gettysburg; cannonballs on a landscape during the Crimean War; children's toys photographed amid the rubble of the Israeli-Lebanese War; and the iconic image of the hooded man that emerged from Abu Ghraib, among others.

This book offers an observant, in-depth exploration that probes the visual sincerity and veracity of notable photographs. It delves into the intentions of a photographer in relation to images themselves; how photography can be manipulated and used as propaganda; how words that accompany a photograph can change visual context; and even how photographs can serve as a source of memory. It is with fascinating insight that Morris thoroughly investigates and interviews experts in the visual arts, as if putting each notable photographic specimen on trial and encouraging readers to ultimately render their own verdicts. 
Believing is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography by Errol Morris
The Penguin Press, $40.00, Hardcover, 978-1594203015, 336 pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (9/2/11), click HERE.