The Lutz and Collins article does something very interesting by introducing this idea of an ‘intersection of gazes’ ultimately becoming the “root of a photo’s ambiguity, each gaze potentially suggesting a different way of viewing the scene” (105). We’ve been discussing how different interpretations/understandings can come from a photo but I don’t think we’ve explored how these different views interact with one another, either supporting or even negating ideologies within society. They state, “the power of the pictorial representation is that it can ease that anxiety (the realization of the gap between our ideal identity and the real)… photos of the ethnic other can help relieve the anxiety provoked by the ideal of the other’s gaze and estimation of us” (92-3). I feel that photography can create a bridge to the other while simultaneously creating a barrier of protection from considering the gaze that Other has upon us. It provides accessibility to the Other while maintaining a distance from them.
These authors discuss the idea of the position of the spectator stating that this, in combination with the multiplicity of intersecting views, “allow viewers to negotiate a number of different identities for both themselves and those pictures” (91). With this comes an inherit position of power of the viewer, as they have the freedom of not only changing interpretation but also identities in contrast to that being photographed (or the Other), who is identified and understood not by their own identity but that imposed by the viewer. They speak on this notion of the mirror, but more specifically the camera, as “tools of self-reflection”(101). The camera provides the one being photographed to not only become self-aware or solidify self-identity and how others see them but also allows the individual to see his or her own self as the Other. I think it’s important to be conscious that the identity of the photographer and how they photograph an individual can help create and mold which facet of this self-identity is being captured and then perpetuated.
Berger’s article explores something a little different. When the author states, “how a woman appears to a man can determine how she will be treated”(46) and then continues to explain how the actions of either gender are perceived and then labeled brought up a great point. I think this notion can be related back to this idea of identity, specifically the formation of the Other (one being viewed). Any thought or perception of who the women, or rather the Other, is based on what the viewer associates with them. Berger says “men act and women appear”(47) so again, applying it to a larger dynamic, the viewer (Westerner) acts and the Other appears. But I think this raises another point, that many times assume that the Other is not conscious that they are being watched and in some sense this solidifies the power dynamic between the photograph and the one being photographed. In the case we do acknowledge that they are aware they are being watched, the photograph provides this distance from owning up to what we're doing, viewing.
Although I understand the ideas and viewpoints of all these readers I still wonder, are reading too deeply into the photographer-person being photographed-viewer dynamic? Are the analytical tools of dissecting and understanding the power and purpose of the photo in fact adding to the confusion and apathy we tend to have towards images?