This page is an entry in the Key.

limitations of the medium

No two-dimensional photograph can ever perfectly portray every aspect of a three-dimensional scene the way humans see the scene.

It simply can’t be done, no matter how much a photograph is manipulated.

The things that keep a photograph from being able to do this are referred to on this website as “limitations of the medium.”

Examples of those limitations include

• the inability of photographs to depict the three-dimensionality of most three-dimensional subjects;

• the inability of photographs to depict sound and movement the way we perceive them in real life; and

• numerous technical limitations ranging from camera/lens/shutter anomalies to the challenge of getting both very near things and very far things in focus in the same photo without combining multiple exposures.

In keeping with rinairs, TCQ does not disqualify photographs that exhibit the visual consequences of normal “limitations of the medium.”

See also this page.

Question #230 notes that “limitations of the medium” are sometimes cited when arguing that “All photographs lie.”