Ruby’s Photo Narrative – “Discipline”

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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.

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6 Responses to Ruby’s Photo Narrative – “Discipline”

  1. joezim1994 says:

    Title: Homefront
    These photographs all tell, in one way or another, the story of war. It is not about the battles or the men making decisions so much as it is about the personal, the real, the lives of the individual men and women involved. The life of a soldier is not easy, but with the grief there is also joy, honor, prestige. These images suggest that these qualities are a common factor in those who serve across the world and across history. The order of the photographs suggests the profound mixup of such emotions that war always brings about.

  2. Title: Discipline

    All of these photographs seek to show either the sacrifices or endurances of the armed forces–especially the navy. Whether it shows the sacrifices that these men and women knowingly endure, or the triumphs that they feel in spite of them. There is a deep sense of comradery that one gets from these photographs as well as a sense of private strength. The discipline required to fight for something they believe in while also sacrificing much of their life is astounding and can be conveyed through this portfolio.

  3. esrayagoub says:

    Title: Fatherhood

    I see the story of a young man who entered the armed forces. He had to leave his family, but he came back as a better man. While away he learned discipline, but more importantly he learned how to celebrate every victory, He returns home with a new outlook about family and relationships. Despite having witnessed many tragedies and deaths, he comes back a strong and confident. He is ready to start an new chapter in his life, and instill the values he learned in his children.

  4. Sheila Jelen says:

    My title for your essay was “deployment.” I wonder, in your reflection, if you could have teased out, a bit more some of the differences Mitchell articulates between an image text and a photographic essay, because in fact, the photographic essay I assigned is not like the photographic essays he analyzes in the essay we read. In his essay, the photographic essay necessarily contains text which is separate from the images, although the images themselves can exist as imagetexts. So the question is whether a photographic essay, like yours, that is devoid from any text, can do the kind of work that Mitchell outlines in his essay on photographic essays.

  5. Sheila Jelen says:

    I respect your decision not to add captions, although even in Steichen’s collection, while there may not be the usual captions, there is text throughout the collection, in the form of quotations, which serves as something between a title and a caption. I wonder if you would have considered doing something like that. The reason I ask is because many people opted not to insert captions, but I think that in some ways, that is the easy way out in a project like this. Sometimes the right caption can, or the right textual accompaniment, can go a long way.

  6. Alona Guseva says:

    I really loved your choice of photos here because I feel like they really emphasized the separation between a bare life and a political life. As members of the navy and the American armed forces, these soldiers live political lives. However, this photo essay serves as a reminder that outside of their professional career, they still live bare lives. While you show them at work and in uniform, you also show them with their families, in their leisure time, and caught up in moments of pure joy. While soldiers serve to do their jobs, it is important to remember them as individuals with bare lives that exist beyond their politicized professional lives.

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