It is important to remember that just because a particular image has been shaped by human hands doesn’t mean it is simply false or deceptive. All forms of media are “constructed” in ways that influence our understanding of their meaning and message.

As the critic and public intellectual Susan Sontag wrote in her seminal book, On Photography: “Even when photographers are most concerned with mirroring reality, they are still haunted by tacit imperatives of taste and conscience. In deciding how a picture should look, in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always imposing standards on their subjects.”

We all make numerous interpretive decisions when deciding to take a photo. Reflect on the choices you make:

  • How might you hold the camera?
  • What will go within or remain beyond the frame?
  • At what distance should you stand from the person or object you want to capture?
  • What are you ultimately trying to express or convey?

Reference Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1973), 4. Photo credit: Adobe stock images, women photographing quayside with iphone, Also, for short statement on the “constructedness” of media, see, Patricia Aufderheide, “General Principles in Media Literacy,” California Newsreel,

4 of 18