The Vicious Observer: Photo-documentary

When a photographer turns a lens on the community or the environment he or she inhabits, the results can be sympathetic or uncompromising, sensitive or brutal.

When history looks at these images, if they survive, it often sees a significance in them that may have been missed in their original time frame. 

When we add, or subtract, context to these images and put them into a perceived space, their reality can change along with their message, and their historical integrity.

What do we ascribe to a blank wall? Is it pockmarked from bullets, or age? Is an old gate a design feature or a safety device?

What do we ascribe to a blank wall? Is it pockmarked from bullets, or age?

Is an old gate a design feature or a safety device?

Is the man in the derelict boat yard what the viewer thinks he is? Or what he chooses to be?

How does the photographer ascribe truth to a picture? Does he distort it through his prejudice or show a version of a truth?

Option A: The truth is the truth... Option B: The truth is a perception...

What is the truth in this picture? The hunchbacked man in the belted coat, hat drawn low on his brow, shuffling away from the Exotic Striptease show and the lurking guy with the camera on a SoHo street.  Is he, observed and shamed into looking into the window of the butcher's shop? Or just buying a half pound of sausages for lunch?