Vilem Flusser, “The Photograph”–A Reflective Essay

When I read this one passage by Vilem Flusser called “The Photograph”, it gave me thought about the composition of the photograph, mainly in black and white. It talks about the photograph’s appeals to the specified audience it was made for through moral, emotion, and thought, as well as the breaking down of the basic elements to decode its purpose.

The one part of this passage, however, that really caught my attention, was the part talking about the existence of black and white. It makes me wonder about how black and white came to be thought of, and why it cannot truly exist in our world, just be a known concept. It also made me wonder about how the photograph could catch the world using the “black and white” concept, but it is shown that we are actually looking at things in gray, as since they cannot be in color, instead it can be gray, although black and white would make since as actual images and not just concepts.

With all of this, the photograph is shown to be some sort of concept, taking the image of things the person sees and putting it into black and white, which is discussed as the photographs “true colors”, that colors on a photograph make it more abstract due to concealing the true origin, which is the shades of black and white/gray. Each photograph will leave a person to “decoding” its meaning, which will almost never end up with a satisfactory result.

Throughout this passage, I really could not just get over the discussion of color, as it made me think about the truthfulness in black & white and color in photography, for conveying the message and leaving it to the audience to decode it. Of course, I enjoyed thinking about how different our world is in terms of the gray scale and colors.



Flusser, Vilem; “The Photograph”

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