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Dana Mikkelsen, Moorhead, Published January 18 2009

Photographs are reality and metaphor

I was taken aback by the recent comments on the opinion page concerning the horrific and violent photographs that have appeared in The Forum as of late. I must say that I am not offended in the least by the photos.

The first point I pondered was the comparison to the mass media’s so-called “reality” that is being shoved in our faces. Well, reality programming is far from it; it generally takes the worst of human nature and exploits it. Taking a picture for a story is essentially capturing a moment in time and within that moment are all the emotions, disturbances and facts that go with it.

The written word in itself forces the reader to come to the conclusion and make the pictures in their mind, generally leading to deductive and rational logic. Introduce a photo into that formula and that is when the emotional stimulus takes the front seat. This phenomenon can be exploited, but I fail to see that within the newspaper. They are not trying to push an agenda by eliciting an emotional response from the reader; they are putting forth visualization for you to render. The impact of a story can be made or broken by the photographs that go with it. This can include an accident, or simply a cold day.

The examples put forward in the opinion piece by Jodie Hay (letter, Jan. 13) are prime examples of things that should be shown, so those of us who cannot visualize things such as trauma and sorrow can see them for what they are, laid out in the cold snow. These photographs are both reality and metaphor laid bare for all to see and feel. Leaving all things horrific or sad to the mind’s eye does a disservice to everyone.

Sometimes we need that biting reality to ground us and give us all a moment of introspection.