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       Comparing Contexts


Gilles Peress surveys a Bosnian city through a window pierced by a bullet. The angle of the camera tilts the horizon slightly so the two towering buildings seem off-balance. The photograph conceals more than it shows and what it does show is not very clear. This could be any city in the world, and the bullet hole could be evidence of any disaster, from a family tragedy to a civil war. That, perhaps, is the point.

Photojournalists like Peress know that publishing photographs in the mass media can create confusion. Editors who have other points of view and interests of their own can change the meaning of a photo with titles or captions, cropping and placement of a picture in a publication. Consider a photo of a famine victim next to an ad for a new Honda. The personality of a publication can have an impact as well. Think about the same photo appearing in Time and in Playboy. The selection process itself can change the meaning of a photograph. Most photojournalists are required to submit all the photos they have taken for an assignment so an editor can choose. How can photojournalists maintain control of their work? For Gilles Peress, the answer is the professional cooperative Magnum. (To find out more about Magnum, click on the bar above.)

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Minneapolis Institute of Arts