In the two text we had to read, one of the themes I saw emerge were that photographs have the potential to other. They often other those not in power, or not “like” the intended viewer. In “The Photograph as an Intersection of Gazes,” the authors explain how brown bodies, especially non-American bodies are constantly objectified, while, Berger focuses on the ways that women are subject to the same gaze and objectification. In addition to distancing “ourselves” from an “other,” photographs have the potential to show us how the other sees us, however Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins posit that the gaze of the other is often “manipulated... [to allow] us to see ourselves reflected in their eyes in ways that are comfortable, familiar and pleasurable” (p. 92).
This keeps us from critical reflection and evaluation of ourselves. However, photographs have the power to cause us to reconsider things that we have previously accepted. Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins sate that the “mirror and camera are tools of self-reflection and surveillance. Each creates a double of the self, a second figure who can be examined more closely than the original - a double that can also be alienated from the self - taken away, as a photograph can be, to another place” (p. 100). I found this statement especially interesting, but it made me wonder how often do we see ourselves in this way; when do we view things from a new perspective and step outside ourselves? How often do we see photographs that ask us to do so? Too often we remain in our comfort zone looking at pictures that reinforce our preconceived notions and don't challenge us, that are “comfortable, familiar and pleasurable.” Both of these articles seem to come back to the question of power dynamics, and how taking a picture allows the photographer to compose and aestheticize the picture in a way that influences the viewer’s perception. It seems that too often the subject of the photograph is left voiceless; their face and body appropriated to convey someone else's message. This results in a multitude of smiling faces looking out at you from national geographic covers that Lutz and described.