People read meanings that aren’t there into photographs, because they are looking for “evidence” to advance a cause, and/or metaphors to illustrate their (sometimes delusional, sometimes just too pat) world views.
The photographer behind a “metaphor for America right now” turns out to be a middle aged lady amateur, who guilelessly responds to all the fuss, no doubt to the Guardian reporter’s chagrin:
There was nobody on the green when I started shooting. I just wanted to capture the fire, which was both beautiful to look at and horrifying to think about. When the golfers turned up, they were in the way of my picture! But I realised it was a cool shot with them in it. It was their last hole of the day and, to me, the scene sums up how life goes on regardless.
They might look as if they’re oblivious to this huge thing going on behind them but the picture is just 1/800th of a second in time. They were very concerned and talking about how terrible it was. (…)
I understand why the picture is seen as a metaphor for climate change. But according to reports, the fire was caused by a 15-year-old who tried to throw a firework into Punch Bowl falls. He missed and started a load of havoc. (…)
People say it was dangerous to be out there, but that’s not true. The fire was more than a mile away across the river, and although embers can cross water, a fire needs fuel to burn. The golf course was well watered with no dry trees. You couldn’t even feel the heat from where we were.
I was not prepared for the reaction to the photo. A friend posted it to Reddit – I didn’t even know what Reddit was. (…)
Some people think the picture is faked and I can see why. It’s a crazy, bizarre scene – who golfs next to a fire? Also, I don’t have a great lens on my camera – you can see a line at the point where the darkness of the golfers in black meets the lightness of the green grass, which makes it look altered. But that’s just an effect called chromatic aberration, and if I had a better camera it wouldn’t be there. Maybe after this I will buy a camera with a better lens. (…)
I normally take pictures of birds, waterfalls and flowers, which I put on calendars for friends and family. I don’t play golf, but my parents and several friends do, so this picture will probably end up on their calendars next year.