That job might mark the beginning of my love for and interest in photography. But while I'm fascinated by the photographic image, I've always questioned the ability of photographs to convey meaning. Photographs are an amazing tool that help immeasurably in telling a story, but they cannot tell stories on their own. Without writing or context the typical photojournalistic "capture" is only capable of a message so broad that it is essentially meaningless. A picture of a policeman pointing a gun, with bandanna'd youth threatening to hurl shards of brick in the background? Sure, there are racial clues, and a full-on semiotic analysis of a particular image will yield more, but often we don't know if we are in Baltimore, Algeria or Burma. "Demonstrators confront authority" is about all we can extract.
What does this have to do with Donald "I have ten billion dollars" Trump? Recent coverage of the Republican frontrunner's presidential campaign in The Guardian has me thinking about how single, but especially multiple images, can drive an agenda virtually without context. I find, at least collectively, that the images below convey a consistent and undeniable message. They convey meaning without caption or context. All of these have been lead illustrations for various Guardian articles about the Donald over the recent weeks since he announced his candidacy, but you don't even need to know who this is to understand that you are dealing with a flatulent, mansplaining blowhard.
The relentlessness of the photoeditorial decision-making process at the Guardian raises questions of fairness in journalism that are more typically leveled at written coverage. Or perhaps there just aren't any photographs of Trump in which he looks friendly, reasonable, or electable.