Bourdieu argues that while we consider photography to be a perfect and objective exhibit of reality, it is far from it. This is because the still image is not a part of anyone’s reality. No one can ever experience it without the photo. In his words, it is “imperceptible because it is instantaneous.”
And in addition to that, it carries with it all of the choices made by the photographer- What angle to shoot from, what photo to take, the lighting, the fact that any one photo a photographer takes is one of an infinite number of ways to capture reality.
Nowadays, with the development of technology, photography is even less objective than ever before. Photoshop makes it such that you really can’t trust the things you see.
To me, Bourdieu’s point rings true. But it’s also important to think of photos in contrast to other mediums. The camera may not be the objective arbiter of truth, but it is more objective than a cartoon drawing. Or at least it seems that way. I see a vague drawing, and the less realistic it is, the more my brain fills in the gaps. But with pictures, the subjective nature is at least lessened. Still, it’s not perfect, because in a photo, it is open to interpretation what characters are thinking and feeling. We still project ourselves into the image.
Of course, if photography were nothing but a concrete record of reality, then photography wouldn’t really be much of an art. And that would be sad.