Posted in Contextual Studies


When reading Barthes extract it provided me with a new view point regarding the elements behind photography. Some key points I picked up when reading Barthes Camera Lucida are as follows:

  • Photography isn’t photography – wants to know if photography exists
  • Photography catches moments that can never be captured again
  • Understanding some photographs requires extra knowledge or relation the the image as it is taken for a reason
  • The photograph and what it represents don’t make sense without each other
  • We don’t “see” the photograph, we see what it represents
  • Photographs have 3 practices, the operator (photographer), spectator (audience) and spectrum (subject)
  • Images are taken to surprise
  • Photography has two procedures. The “chemical revelation” shows light on a subject which is more visible to the audience. The “physical order” is the formation of the image through the lens, seen by the photographer.
  • When you know you’re being photographed you naturally change your body position (pose), which can sometimes make you seem different to who you are in reality by imitating characters
  • Photography objectifies a subject – makes a human seem dead?
  • No control of the ownership of the objectification
  • There are too many sides to a “self”
  • Photographs are interpreted differently by everyone and can be read differently depending on where they are published
  • Cameras are clocks for seeing, you finger is the thing that captures the right moment.

Dictionary of words I didn’t understand

ONTOLOGICAL – the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.

CONSTITUTE – be (a part) of a whole.

ANTIPHON – in Christian music and ritual is a responsory by a choir or congregation, usually in the form of a Gregorian chant, to a psalm or other text in a religious service or musical work

DEICTIC – Relating to or denoting a word or expression whose meaning is dependent on the context in which it is used (such as here, you, me, that one there, or next Tuesday). Also called indexical. In these ‘referential’ uses, it is replaceable by the deictic pronouns this and that (This is red, That is possible).

TAUTOLOGICAL – Needless repetition of the same sense in different words

IMPORTUNATE – Troublesomely urgent or persistent in requesting; pressingly entreating

IMPASSE –  road or passage having no exit

HEURISTIC – relating to a usually speculative formulation serving as a guide in the investigation or solution of a problem

EFFIGY – A crude figure or dummy representing a hated person or group

REFERENT – A person or thing to which a linguistic expression refers

QUINTESSENCE – The pure, highly concentrated essence of a thing

PHENOMENOLOGY – A philosophy or method of inquiry based on the premise that reality consists of objects and events as they are perceived or understood in human consciousness and not of anything independent of human consciousness


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