Whether inscribed in physical media, projected on surfaces, or viewed on digital devices, we find ourselves constantly inundated with streams of visual data. Yet, we know surprisingly little about how these images are made, especially in journalistic contexts where representations are long-lasting and where repercussions can be dramatic.
To See and Be Seen considers some of the ideological, aesthetic, pragmatic, institutional, cultural, commercial, environmental, and psychological forces that consciously or otherwise shape the production of news images and subsequently influence their reception. T. J. Thomson examines the expectations, experiences, and reactions of those depicted by visual journalists and considers other relevant factors: how do everyday people perceive cameras and those who operate them? How are identities visually represented and presented to different audiences? And how does the physical and the socially constructed environment shape those depictions?
The results of Thomson’s research provide one of the first empirical and real-time glimpses into the experience of being in front of a journalist’s lens. To See and Be Seen enables us to understand the stories behind images by considering the environment in which such images are made, the exchange (if one occurred) between the camera-wielding observer and the observed, the identities of both parties, and how they react to the representations that are created.
List of figures
1: The Role of the Visual in Everyday Life
2: An Exploration of Place and Space
3: Self and Society
4: Self and Psyche
5: Expectations and Attitudes
6: In Front of the Lens
7: Toward Interactivity, Trust, and Responsibility
T.J. Thomson is a Lecturer in the School of Communication, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.
Visual communications enthusiasts rejoice! T.J. Thomson masterfully synthesizes various facets of the prism of the news visual, from its production, to the role of the visual in everyday life, and to the experiences of those visually depicted in the news. The fusion of well-established literature and newly-published research explored from myriad ontological perspectives makes To See and Be Seen an invaluable overview of the visual newsscape.
T.J. Thomson offers a rare look at the relationship between photojournalists and their subjects. Using a series of carefully crafted, grounded studies, To See and Be Seen covers terrain rich in theoretical and ethical significance. Brimming with detail and empathy, Thomson’s research is valuable to anyone wishing to understand the human impact of visual journalism in the digital era.
Visual news has been part of our life arguably since the Stone Age. But until recently there has been relatively little empirical research into the production and consumption of visual journalism. To See and Be Seen: The Environments, Interactions and Identities Behind News Images by T.J. Thomson admirably fills a gap in exploring existing understanding of how journalists and audiences create images. As revealing and important in this era of instant “live-from-ground-zero” coverage, social media and reality-bending avatars is Thomson’s study of emotional dynamics of personality and location in news, from the point of view of both the industrial professional and independent creator. To See and Be Seen is that rare book that will satisfy scholars, students, and practitioners alike.
T.J. Thomson writes a refreshing book about photography and how visual journalists’ mediated visuals are made. He focuses on the historical context of images, while more importantly giving voice to image creators through both context and case studies. As a former photo editor turned visual scholar, Thomson is sensitive to the aesthetics of photojournalism while aiming to help readers and viewers go beyond simple picture making. This book is worth the read!
To See and Be Seen: The Environments, Interactions and Identities behind News Images offers much-needed context to everyday journalism. Instructors would do well to read Thomson this summer while preparing their fall syllabi. The lessons here ring true for those who train future visual journalists and those who train future multimedia journalists—anyone who raises glass to capture an image needs to understand the implications of their actions. Thomson shows us just that. He draws on his own background in visual journalism as a photo editor, freelancer, and consultant to navigate the feelings, concerns, and issues of those on both sides of the lens. That perspective is what makes this book unique.