Naval service is a complicated aspect of society often confused with a simple one. The many men and women that enter the navy are varied in backgrounds, opinions, and culture. Yet every member of the navy that enters the service finds, whether or not they are looking for it, a strictly disciplined society that forces them to abide by certain rules and regulations in order to best serve. Melanie Machinski suggested the title “Discipline” for my photo essay for this very reason. However, I chose “Discipline” as a title not only because of this reason, but because of the many ways the word could be taken. It could mean the uniform lines of soldiers, as in photos 7 and 10. It could refer to the way parents decide to discipline their children, as in photos 2 and 11.The title could also be considered in conjunction with the photos of naval officers being disciplined or shirking discipline, such as in photos 2 and 3 respectively. These are only a few of the ways that the title could be considered in conjunction with the photographs, or indeed the title could not be considered at all.
I also chose not to add any captions to my photographic essay. I do not believe that authorial intent is important – or at the very least, I believe it is less important than the subject and certainly less important that the observer. I have left only the briefest guideline – the title – as to how the essay could be considered. But I consider this title more as a starting point for the observer to think about the photographic essay as opposed to a guideline. I feel that adding captions would make the essay’s format feel too constricting. Steichen’s “The Family of Man” was successful in part because it allows the observer to draw an explicit as well as an implicit meaning from the photographs. I believe, with a concrete theme such as “the Navy” for my essay, the explicit meaning is already out in the open. Therefore, the observer may dive right into the implicit meaning. The title is the diving board and the photos are the pool. Any textual accompaniment to go along with the photographs would simply make the implicit meaning more explicit, like changing an imagetext to an image/text. I loved hearing the many ways observers interpreted my essay, and hopefully the changes I have made have only served to enhance other’s opinions rather than constrict them.