This page is an entry in the Key.


“TCQ is built on the premise that all photographs are subjective.” FAQ #219

TCQ is built on the premise that every photograph — including every “news” photograph — is a subjective, personal interpretation of one person’s narrow and very selective perspective on a tiny sliver of the world during a single, often atypical, moment in time.

What makes photographs “subjective”?

The dictionary defines “subjective” as “particular to a given person; personal.”

All photographs are “subjective” because they all result from a combination of personal choices made from many equally-valid options.

Even if nothing at all is done to change a photograph after it was taken, almost all photographs immediately reflect five highly “subjective” choices:

1. Which equipment was used
2. Where the camera was placed
3. Which direction the camera was pointed
4. How broad a view of the scene was in the picture
5. When the shutter was clicked

(There often are additional “subjective” pre-shutter decisions the photographer can make involving shutter speed, depth-of-field, and plane of focus.)

That’s why every photograph is a “subjective interpretation” the moment the shutter is clicked to create it — even if it is not changed later.

How can a photograph be both “subjective” and “trustworthy?

The standard TCQ approach applies to the statement that “All photographs are subjective”:

Anyone who believes that photographs can be “objective” is encouraged to post online an example of “an objective photo” and invite public comment.