I find my preconceptions disrupted in a couple of ways. One, if I read something in a reputable place that contradicts something I believe, I’m more prone to do more reading research to confirm whether my views are right or not. Someone once told me I don’t believe anything until I see it written down and I’m learning that’s more true than I might want, but it’s who I am so I keep living that way. I realize everything that’s written isn’t always true but also believe lies have a hard time propagating across multiple locations that have no relation to each other. Until I’m convinced (in writing, of course) of the global media conspiracy I’ll keep doing my research and proving or disproving my long-held beliefs.
Two, if I see something that changes the way I think visually about something I’m usually quicker to change my perception. Have you ever just held a visual belief about something only to find it wrong? Ever visualized a person based on their voice only to be completely surprised when you finally meet them? That is the sort of visual disruption I’m talking about.
Take this image, for example:
Years of watching Disney and other cartoons left me with the visual belief that foxes were these lithe, close-to-the-ground animals will short legs and long bodies. Well, here’s a real, live red fox – look at the length of those legs! I chatted with the recovery volunteer responsible for this two-year-old and she confirmed this is indeed what the average fox looks like. Well no wonder they can give hound dogs a run for their money. With legs like that they can just about blaze across the ground like a horse. I have never seen one this close in the wild and now I know why – they are long gone by the time I get close enough to realize their presence.
This is a captive animal – the leash obviously gives that away – who is part of a recovery program in Montana. She was recovered as a kit from a field when mom was killed and has been raised by hand. Still a wild animal but not eligible for return to the wild – just doesn’t know how to take care of herself. Now she serves to educate people on foxes, people like me who until now lived in a fantasy world of unrealistic visual beliefs. Since its inception photography has been used to both display and distort reality and we’re cautioned not to believe any image we see today. With that as a given, however, photographs do continue serving a purpose of showing us the visual worlds that are inaccessible to us and helping us form a more accurate belief about them. Enjoy what you see!