Fred Ritchin
[Critic and writer, b. 1952, Washington, D.C., lives in New York.]

 And the wars? Can our photographs do anything at all? (Or do we turn it all into image so that it will bother us less?) 
 We are all photographers suddenly, or surrounded by them. 
 In fact, the new malleability of the image may eventually lead to a profound undermining of photography’s status as an inherently truthful pictorial form... If even a minimal confidence in photography does not survive, it is questionable whether many pictures will have meaning anymore, not only as symbols but as evidence. 
 The photograph that discovers and uncovers the world is harder to simulate than an image that simply illustrates one’s ideas about it. 
 ...digital photography is so instantaneous, abundant and virtual that it seems to reside outside of the passing of time.... The problem is not only one of image manipulation software, but of the empty shells that these images inhabit—decontextualized, without agency, ephemeral. These digital images are viewed as chimera, deracinated and oblivious to the historical. 
 The “decisive moment,” the popular Henri Cartier-Bresson approach to photography in which a scene is stopped and depicted at a certain point of high visual drama, is now possible to achieve at any time. One’s photographs, years later, may be retroactively “rephotographed” by repositioning the photographer or the subject of the photograph, or by adding elements that were never there before but now are made to exist concurrently in a newly elastic sense of space and time. 
 I always believed that photography was subjective, interpretive and certainly did not represent the “truth,” but I did think that its status as a societal and historical referent needed to be both safeguarded and illuminated....now photojournalism is devolving into yet another medium perceived as intending to shock, titillate, sell, distort. 
 We have to tell people how images are made. And, the first step is to abandon the idea we’re looking at photographs. We’re looking at entry points to information and to the world in which the image was made. 
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