Photographs and photography offer slanted and partial views of reality. Sadly they are often taken to be true representations of a situation. Snapshots are taken of weddings not funerals, of birthday parties but not divorces and new born children but not battered babies. They are selective and conventions of selection amplify nostalgia and relegates unpleasantness to the uncertainty and dimness of memory. They are conservative, they re-enforce complacency by reminding people of the happy moments and discourage changing. In their photo albums they become an almost official version of lives. They are also instruments of change. They are ways of avoiding involvement. A person taking a souvenir shot on vacation creates a distance from those he is photographing. Even the language of photography is suspect. Cameras are loaded; pictures are shot; images are captured or taken; lenses are attached with bayonet mechanisms.
The consumer of photographs are the most influenced by them. Photos seem to be more real than written words. They reassure because of the impression that photos cannot lie. Yet everyone knows that pictures can be doctored, scenes set, situations contrived. Because photos are both pictures of reality and symbols of reality they have great power. They also help create stereotypes.