‘Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention’ (S. Sontag, 1977). Susan Sontag explains that a person who intervenes an photograph cannot record the photograph an vice versa. I believe this is only partly true as the photographer can always give commands to the people in front of the camera. This may not apply to photographs that are taken in the moment but staged ones. When we look at photographs we ‘read’ them. We look at different factors to read an image such as: composition, content, colour, lighting, context and other elements.

Elliot Erwitt. NYC, 2000

This is an image shot by Elliot Erwitt showing a comic situation in the street. A man rests on stairs in front of a house entrance with his two dogs. One dog sits on his lap and the photographs shows the man without his face but with his dog’s head right in front of his. The impact of the image would not have been the same if the face of the man had been seen next to the dogs. The timing was essential. The photographer took the initiative and it results in a successful image. The picture is in black and white. With stripping away colour we can focus on the important parts of the image. The man and his dogs are centred in the middle, so it is the main focus. It is an everyday scene in New York city. The lighting is quite general and not focused on one aspect of the image. I think the purpose of the image is to bring a smile on the audiences faces. It is not relevant to any current issue or has a deeper meaning to it. It just exists for itself and makes people happy. The whole image stands by itself and Sontag’s statement applies to it. Erwitt did not interfere but chose the right moment to shoot which brought him a successful photograph.


Erwitt, E. (2000)  Available at: (Accessed/downloaded: 02.10.2016).

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. Penguin


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