Sunday, March 5, 2017

Context is important

Seeing is not always believing.
That was not any more evident than last week when a photo circulated on social media depicting Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Trump, kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office. Inside the Oval Office was President Trump and leaders from historically black universities and colleges.
The photo shows Conway holding a smartphone in her hand and legs tucked underneath her on the Oval Office couch. The photo went viral and was the subject of news stories, comments of outrage from politicians and was even the subject of a ongoing gag on Saturday Night Live last night.

Here is the photo:

Here is where context is important. I am willing to bet not too many people saw this other photo, from the same event, taken moments after the first shot.

As you can see, Conway wasn't disrespectfully lounging on the Oval Office couch playing with her smartphone. She was trying to take a photo from a particular angle.
One can argue she could have stood on the floor in the center and taken the photo, or kneeled on the floor for the photo, but take a look at the way the group is gathered ... a sort of semi-circle around the President. She was trying to get a unique angle shot, is my guess.
I am not familiar with Conway's photography skills and am not questioning it. That's not the point. The point is the first photo drew outrage from folks who didn't bother to seek out context, which is provided in the second photo.
Conway has made some head-scratching comments and done some questionable things ... but this isn't one of them.
It all goes back to people sharing things on social media without knowing a little bit more about what actually happened and why.
The adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words," certainly applies ... but this generated all kinds of incorrect words and assumptions.
Context is important.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great example of how photography/photographers can face ethical problems when taken out of context.