Part 1: Objectives

Freezing and Memorializing Time Part 1. Freezing and Memorializing Time

The questions for this week:

  • What is the nature of photography as a medium?
  • How are photographs different from other visual media?
  • Is photography art, reportage, or a mixture of both?
  • Is photography still relevant today?
  • What makes a “good” photograph?
  • How does a photography tell a story?

Part 1: To-Do List

  • Blog post relating to last week’s coursework or class (due Tuesday)
  • Readings/Texts
  • Discussion Board assignment on Charles Moore’s Photographs
  • Submit the Children’s Book Assignment

Part 1: Overview

This is a short week, and your second major assignment is due, so this part of the unit is more focused around an activity and some background material. 

Once again we are going to do a quick dip into an incredibly rich subject: Photography.

Photography developed into a medium with wide appeal in Western Europe and the US in the 19th Century. Once newspapers found a way to reproduce photos in their pages, the field of photojournalism developed, with whole magazines devoted to photojournalism with accompanying stories or news stories with accompanying photos, depending on how you look at it. In many cases, the photographs themselves became news stories, as you will see, and influenced events.

Even with the rise of television and video, photography remains a powerful medium because it can do something moving images can’t do: as photojournalist Renée Byer says, “In this fast-paced world, where the emphasis is on immediacy, a still photograph stops time. It gives the viewer a moment to think, to react, to feel.”

This week you will explore two of the most iconic set of images of the latter part of the 20th Century: “The Afghan Girl” (1985) and Charles Moore’s set of photographs of the Birmingham Campaign in 1963–one of the important moments in the 1960s civil rights movement. 

But I could have easily chosen other photographs that had equal impact.

Part 1: Photography: Freezing Time

Photographs not only freeze time, they allow us to stop and truly examine the moment in detail without getting distracted by movement and sound. The longer we look at a good photo, the more we see. In that way, it is like a painting or a drawing.

And like a painting or drawing, a photo is not without artifice. What you are seeing is not unfiltered reality. There is much the photographer can do to highlight aspects of the original to produce the final product. In all these ways, a good photograph blurs the distinction between reporting and artwork. Photographs are never neutral.

Part 1: Readings & Text

Think about how photographs rely on many of the factors we have already covered, like denotation and connotation and metaphor. Always read the captions for photographs if they are available.

  1. “The Afghan Girl” photograph, National Geographic, 1985.
    • This photograph became world famous almost overnight. Take some time to just look at the photo and think about why that would be. Then read the story of the photograph and its aftermath.
    • There is some reporting out there of how this was a more problematic photo than it seems at first glance. While the interview with Sharbat Gula, the girl who had no name at the time, hints at some of that ambivalence, if you are interested, you can find much more on the web and elsewhere about the issues of agency and cultural blindness surrounding the circumstances involved in the original photo.
Afghan girl photo by Steve McCurry, 1985 & National Geographic
Citation: [BBC News] (2017, Jan. 29) “Afghan ‘green-eyed girl’ on her future – BBC News” [Video File]. Retrieved from
  1. Charles Moore, photographs from the Birmingham Campaign, Life Magazine, 1963.
    • These photographs, which appeared in a spread in Life Magazine with other pictures and some text, are credited with helping move the country to pay attention to what was happening down South during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
    • It is reminiscent of the power of the visual to change the discussion and dynamics that we saw (and continue to see) in the Black Lives Matter Movement. Without those videos, would the country have been able to continue to ignore what has been happening regularly for decades?
    • Go on this webpage and look at the eight (8) photos posted. Click on them to get a larger view of the photo. If you want to explore further and learn about the Birmingham Campaign and Charles Moore (and to see more of his photographs), scroll down to the bottom of that page, and you’ll see some boxes with links to primary and secondary sources.

Part 1: Discussion Board Assignment

Look carefully at each of the eight (8) famous Charles Moore photos from the Birmingham Campaign. Here again is the link to the pictures: Charles Moore photos from the Birmingham Campaign.

Think about which one you think is the “best” and why. Why do you think these photos became so famous?

Choose one (1) of these pictures to write a discussion board post on. Why did you pick this picture? Be specific when you talk about the photo. Try to analyze what you see and explain the effect is has on you.

Change the subject title to something reflecting what you’ve written for your post.

Feel free to respond to other people’s posts. You might like to read what people wrote about the same photo you picked and a few you didn’t write about.

Citation: [Daniel Love] (2004) “Charles Moore: I Fight With My Camera” [Video File]. Retrieved from

Go To Unit 4