Roland Barthes: Studium and Punctum

Roland Barthes creates theory of photographic meaning that makes a distinction between the studium and the punctum and highlights the punctum as photography-specific.

The studium indicates historical, social or cultural meanings extracted via semiotic analysis. For example, the photograph taken by Diane Arbus in New York City in 1962 is portraying a little boy, tensely holding his thin arms by his by his side with the right hand he clenched a toy grenade and with his left hand is held in a claw-like gesture. This image captured by Diane Arbus could be interpreted as a presence of the historic transition from the complacent isolationism of the 1950s to the socio-political turmoil or it could be just display of foolish behaviour and primal violence.

The punctum points to those features of a photograph that seem to produce or convey a meaning without invoking any recognizable symbolic system. This kind of meaning is unique to the response of the individual viewer of the image. For example, when I am looking at this photograph of little boy holding toy grenade, it makes me wonder why is he holding it? Is there any specific reason? Is that just silly behaviour or is that reflection of society?

Moreover, when I am looking at this image the fat that jumps of in my mind is why this boy facial expression is so maniacal? Where that all anger coming from such a young and innocent boy? Why he chose to be photographed with facial expression? A smallest detail in the image makes you ask thousand and thousand questions, which you could interpret in your own way. I think this is what makes photography so special and unique, because images talks for itself.

A photograph communicates with audience visually by making them question why? Ability to use Roland Barthes theory of photographic meaning helps us to look at the images from a closer angle and interpret images in viewers own way. Everyone of us has different understanding about the life, has different culture, so even the same images I have chosen it would be interpret it contradictorily by other individual.


Personally, this unit for me was like concentration before my final module – FMP. It allowed me to look back at the past. Look to the earliest days and see how photography was progressing and how the art movements reflected photography movement and development as the art form. I think is very important to understand how photography started as an art and appreciate what we have now, because without photography we would be able to capture those moments in our lives and see the records on most influential and magnificent photographs from the past. Photography plays a massive part in today’s world. It has changed a lot since its existence.

During this unit, I had chance to look closer to the art movements and understand every each art movement role in the history. In the first session of this unit, we started by doing art movement timeline and anazlysing how every art started and who might influenced each other arts. I pay a lot of attention to expressionism art, because I could relate this art movement to my personal work, especially landscape or urban photography. In photography I discover a form of ‘self-expression’ where I am able to give my individual voice to my intended audience and show subjective experience about constantly changing world or just display how I feel about it about particular moment. In this unit I had change to look at the artist who relates to expressionism art movement and research for more influents or learnt something useful that might adapt into my personal work.
As always, during this unit we had a change to work with techniques and different cameras starting from blueprinting the oldest non-silver photographic printing process finish with modern digital cameras. I really loved that few sessions we have worked with cyanotype process, because we print our images on special plastic paper, which looks similar as negative and placed on paper covered chemicals we kept it outside for certain time. It was great, because we had a chance to work with the oldest techniques and realise how far photography went since certain times. Also, we have worked with medium and large format, cameras, that before I used to struggle now I am enjoying to work. Well, I can’t admit when I was using large format I asked Jodie to helped me, because I do not felt hundred percent confidante with it, but when I saw my final image, I was very happy, because it was perfect. Moreover, medium format absolutely enjoyed and actually think to challenge myself a bit and try to do my FMP fashion photoshoot based on medium format camera. Overall, I think it’s brilliant and very useful that our tutors pay so much attention on working with various facilities and techniques which might be useful in future.
I do not really enjoy that we used wordpress as sketckbooks. Personally, I more prefer sketchbooks or files. I agree you spend more time by doing a sketchbook or file, but it lets you to be more creative and original then wordpress. In wordpress your abilities is quite limited.
As I said before we have been very concentrated on history of photography, that during the unit our tutors required students to present visual presentation about photographic history. In one of the hand, I really admire to do presentation and pick up the useful information by using different resources such as books and internet, but in the other hand I feel a bit disappointed, because during my presentation all my confidents gone and I really struggle to start, even thought that I knew what I am talking about. I think for me is very hard to speak in front of the class, because of my English that what makes me worries the most. Next time I definitely try to be more confident than I was last time.
Trip to Liverpool! Absolutely enjoy it; even thought that during the trip I cached flu. In the first part of the day we and other students visited Tate gallery where we seen DLA Piper Series: Constellations explores connections between major works from the Tate collection across art history by arranging them in nine ‘constellations’. Presenting over one hundred works from the collection, on two floors of the gallery, the displays offer a fresh way of viewing and understanding artworks through correspondences rather than chronological narrative. One of my favourite pieces were “Blood of a Poet Box” create by Eleanor Antin in 1965. The wood box containing one hundred glass slides of blood samples of poets she knew personally and second piece that I was impress short movie called “In the Palace” directed by Daria Martin. It was impressive how dancers showed relationship to the space around them, which aimed to re-establish the broken links between the human figure and the industrial environment and to illustrate social harmony. It displays relationship between early twentieth century painting, sculpture, fashion and stage and dance production, recalling the modernist idea of total art work. The second half of the day, we spend visiting Walker Gallery. I think it was very similar gallery which we visited in Manchester. In walker Gallery there was exhibition of all art movements since the earliest day’s art till modern art. It was very interesting, because walking in the different room you was able to see how different between various epochs. During time in this gallery I was very interested by sculptures.
I know that after this module, we will start new unit called “FMP”, but I am quite ready for it, because I done some research and I found some of the photographers and artist that influence me. Also, I have like sample idea what I want to do, but I am not sure hundred percent I need to expand my idea a bit more and be sure that is the right choices for my FMP work. The only thing I know is that I want to challenge myself and work with using film camera, perhaps medium format, because large format it’s very expensive. My main theme would be – Fashion photography. So hopefully for next unit, I will produce something interesting and in a bit higher standards that I am producing work now.

Pierre Debusschere (FMP)

I can’t even explain what I think about these images. I just literally adore these photographs. 
I can admit, these images really stand out and if you want to be successful in fashion industry your final image should be different then other photographers. In nowadays, I think its quite difficult, because a lot of photographers using right software to create similar images, so you should be more skillful then other artist/photographers on digital side. I love these images, the colours in the images makes them more interesting rather than be without colours. These images really inspires me, but I don’t think that would be very good choices to do for my final work, because in previous STUDIO module I did quite similar fashion multiple exposures and when I looking at Pierre work it reminds me my work a lot. I could just pick some details from these images and add to my final work. 

ImageThis photograph is one of my favorite one. I love how he present the model in his image and what the most catch my eyes is that reflection of model shape against her, because in that shadow you can see some details from multiple exposure. Also, I love the models looks, because it looks unusual. All the colours in the images works good together. 

Eni Turkeshi (FMP)

I think her work is one of the closers that I could be able to reflected to my FMP work. I think she as an artist really inspires me, because she works a lot in the darkroom and this is what I am looking for my FMP. As an artists she is very related to the darkroom work. For my final module I want to challenge myself a bit more and perhaps to risk with my imagery, because I think if you wouldn’t risk with your images you risking to stay at the same level, so in my case I want to improve my skills and take myself to a higher photography level. Darkroom is place which requires higher technical skills than digital imagery. 

This is her website, so you could have a quick look – 

Below I you can see images, that creates very similar vision to mines, what I am planing to do for my FMP module, I want to draw similar forms, quite abstract forms on my final prints. Perhaps, all my abstract forms  would be more clear that you could see in these images below.
 Image  Image




Robert Heinecken (FMP)

Robert Heinecken was an American artist who referred to himself as a “paraphotographer” because he so often made photographic images without a camera.

His style and work

Heinecken described himself as a “para-photographer” because his work stood “beside” or “beyond” traditional notions of the medium. He extended photographic processes and materials into lithography, collage, photo-based painting and sculpture, and installation. Drawing on the countless pictures in magazines, books, pornography, television, and even consumer items such as TV dinners, Heinecken used found images to explore the manufacture of daily life by mass media and the relationship between the original and the copy, both in art and in our culture at large. Thriving on contradictions, friction, and disparity, his examination of American attitudes toward gender, sex, and violence was often humorous and always provocative.



As always, most interesting artist or photographer I manage to found recently. His work for me is very eye catching. Why? Answer is very simple, because he use multiple exposures. I relate his as one of most inspirational photographers for my FMP, because as I mention somewhere before I want to to multiple portraits using medium camera. I know that Robert H. creates his “photographs” without using a camera, but I want to challenge myself a bit more and create something similar. Multiple exposures obviously I will create using medium format, but using chemicals I want to draw on my final images. For example, Image 
As you can see this image, perfect example for my final image, I would like to create something similar. My theme for FMT will be fashion, perhaps something to do with hair and make-up, so I want to capture images similar, which I provide on the left side. My image should be captured against black background, because if I would draw with the chemicals that the viewer wouldn’t be able to black prints on the image and by doing flawless hand movement with the brush to draw with the chemicals that viewers would be able to see some of the face.

I love his works, especially colours that he uses. I like that he use cold and warm colours at the same time, so then both of the layers stands out, because as we know cold and warm colours can’t be mixed together, because it doesn’t creates nice colours overall, but in this case it stand out and looks better. Because if you would use two warm colours then the layers would cover each other and you wouldn’t be able to see lines and shapes in those two different layers. Second think that I like about this work, that his work is related to fashion.
Also below you can see some of his works: 





Value of Truth in Photography

Do you ever think that a photograph is worth a thousand words or is it just a lie? Since the invention of photography the images created by camera and lens have been nearly synonymous with truthfulness in the popular mind. “The camera never lies,” goes the old saying – despite the many well-documented deceptions based on cleverly doctored likenesses of fictitious people or events. Photography’s “truthfulness” is in fact, mostly an optical illusion. Many people will argue that photography can never tell the truth. I personally think it is subjective and depends on the individual person to decide whether they think something is the truth or not in a photograph. In this way the truth in photography can change from person to person. The photographer may have meant to show one truth and the viewer may interpret another way. Deciding if photography tells the truth or not cannot really have a definite answer, it really depends on so many different factors.
An obvious first thought is that there is a direct connection between looking at photographic images and the true beliefs. This connection is missing or at least less pronounced in cases of looking at handmade images. But it is surprisingly difficult to come up with a clear statement of the nature of such a connection that is plausibly true. On a very strong interpretation, viewing photographs always yields true perceptual beliefs, whereas viewing handmade images sometimes yields true beliefs and sometimes yields false ones. But this is obviously false. As noted at the outset, everyone agrees that viewing photographs frequently leads to the formation of false beliefs.
However, the photographers nowadays can digitally change the lighting, the colour intensity or the contrast in a photograph. But I think it does make it untrue or false. It can still show a truth that the photographer intended, so in a way it still shows the truth. The edits that the photographer makes can also make a photograph appear more real because in the process of taking the picture the photograph may have come out distorted in some way. The photographer can also distort and configure a photograph while taking it to make something appear a certain way whether or not in reality it appears that way. This then can be said not to tell the truth because it was manipulated and changed by the photographer in order to make something appear to be a way that in reality it is not.
But in my opinion, photography is standing in the middle of lie and truth, so the viewers can interpret it in their own way and how they want to understand the truth. The images truth is changing all the time.
For instant, the master of the surreal photography Jerry Ueslasmann invented new darkroom techniques to achieve the surrealistic imagery he craved. Primarily, all his images were taken in the 50’s and 60’s before the invention of Photoshop or digital photography. He was one of the first photographers who start using photographic manipulation. Personally, I think it just improves that photographers used photographic manipulation from very early days. Digital or darkroom techniques manipulation I could relate to surrealism. Where fantasy and dreams appears in the images never can be true. Nowadays, digital manipulation is quite often appearing in magazines, perfumes or clothes commercials where photographers manipulating our impulses and logic not just the photograph. For example, perfume commercials for me they are very surreal, because in the image there usually appears a beautiful woman, somewhere in dreamland around bright purple flowers with perfume bottle in her hands. So in other words, your imagination send you clues of how their perfumes might smell, but imagination never cannot be true even in the photographs.
Image    Image

 But in the other hand, there are some realism photographers, who tried to depict the real world exactly as it appears. They showed everyday subjects and people. They did not try to interpret the setting or add emotional meaning to the scenes. Everything was just about pure truth. How ever, we all read photographs differently from paintings, as demonstrated by the fact that the most controversial works of art in recent times have been photographs, not paintings. I think photographer Sally Mann with The Immediate Family series of photographs could be a very good example.
Image  Image

She featured her half-clothed or naked children and sparked outrage in some quarters precisely because they were photographs, because the images chronically were showing something that was “real”. I see her works as reality. I think all the documentary photographers show the entire truth in that very moment which they captured and that moment cannot be repeated ever again. I think especially Dorothea Lange’s images of Depression-era in America; she showed everyday life in dynamic compositions. She was one of those photographers who worked with a burning desire to effect social change by informing the public of suffering that was far away. She produced images based on truth. In my point of view, nowadays it is quite difficult to find a trustless photographer, because technology is progressing very quickly and people choosing manipulate with their photographs using programs such as Photoshop and etc. Rather than show truth and the way images were captured.
Image   Image

Talking about my personal work I could link it to the expressionism art movement. I am always trying to tell my intended audience the truth. I think the pictures that I produced by a camera are reflection of my thoughts and my personality. Photography for me is visual media where I am able to express myself. Usually, showing how I feel about that moment I captured. When I look though my work I could say it is quite dark, gloomy and mysterious, but perhaps with my imagery I want to display that emptiness which sometimes I see around myself. In images I have shown my opinions and emotions, but the rest of it, I am leaving to the audiences.
All in all the truth that can be seen in photography is completely subjective and relies on so many different factors. The truth can change by the person who is viewing a singular photograph or photography as a whole. It can change depending upon the photographer and the way in which they take and use their photographs. The truth in photography changes all of the time.

In conclusion, as we can see technologies growing really fast. Basically every half and year a lot of different companies produce new media devices or software that photographer or filmmakers can you see it. In my opinion, I think more and more people perhaps will manipulate with their images. The severity of image manipulation comes into play when images are presented as news after they have been altered and no longer reflect the truth. Many people accept as fact electronically published and edited photographs that are so flawless they appear to have been shot with a camera. For example, if you look at fashion industry for every single magazine cover they use photographic manipulation, because in fashion industry you can avoid it. Some of the photographer need to fix background or add some extra details or for models need to retouch skin or make wait look slimmer.
Photographer takes decision manipulate or not. As I said before people manipulating since earliest days till twenty first century, so it seems that we can’t avoid photographic manipulation in photography industry.


“The Photograph” by Graham Clarke



Documentary Photography

In 20th century the most dominating genre of photography was taken by documentary photography. During 20th century there were a lot of great documentary photographers such as Eve Arnold, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Leonard Freed and etc. made documentary photographs.
“Documents” means “Evidences”, in different words – evidence not to be questioned, a truthful account backed by the authority of the law. Documentary genre photographers capturing the images of occurred evidence of significant historical events. Represent of what has happened in the past. The documentary images were truthful records.
The main subject-matter in documentary photography was emotional and harrowing experiences such as poverty, social and political issues, war, crime, deprivation, disaster and suffering that photographer used to capture.

William Edward Kilburn’s took one of the earliest “documentary” images where he literally records a history unavailable to us. Nowadays readers have a privilege to look at the historical events from a bit closer angle.
Early documentary photographers used the camera to expose what would otherwise remain invisible; police appropriated the camera as a mean of evidence. Social reformers sought to educate a middle-class public with images which made visible those areas of their society where injustice and poverty abounded.
If the documentary photograph wants us to accept it on the terms in which it is given, then equally needs to be looked at relation to the way it was taken.


Landscape in Photography

During the XVIII and XVIIII, landscape photography was the language of academic painting and traditions. It went clearer when painters were seeking a new realism. John Ruskin called it “a science of the aspect of things and exploration and settlement of new lands. The photograph allowed the land to be controlled, visually at least. Photograph ability to record a scene was equally matched by the growing concern with the light in time. Especially in Impressionism paintings people had ability to see how light changes in different periods of time.

Landscape was viewed as a popular “picturesque”. In other words “picturesque” needs to be understood in relationship to two other aesthetic ideals: the beautiful and the sublime. Landscape had not been viewed in relation as neutral features, as a cultural index; picturesque was visual confirmation of timeless.
Landscape photography in American context has been moved between two different understandings: photographic elements of nature such as flowers and trees and changes such as water, sky, light and different seasons and the second one was seeing out images full of rural harmony.
In 19th century English photographer called Roger Fenton reflect highly specific cultural vocabulary based on literature and paintings. Often his photographs remains touristic style where he shows a class of people who looked upon landscape scenery in aesthetic and philosophical terms. Moreover, some of Fenton’s landscapes offer an index of Victorian attitudes. In some of the scenes Fenton records selected spots and spaces, which guides the way he frames his subjects. So overall we could say that Rodger Fenton produce imagery using traditional elements of landscape photography.


The Portrait in Photography

According to Graham Clarke portrait in photography is the most problematic area of photographic practice. This ambiguity relates to the question of precisely what, and who, is being photographed. Usually portraits photographs are trying to display expression, personality or particular mood.

In early portraiture images people tried to show their social status and how wealthy they live, so basically it means more images you have of yourself or your family the richer you are. It just represents that imagery at that time was very expensive and not everybody afford it to have portraiture of family or themselves. Time passing photography advances became cheaper and cheaper, so a lot people from lower social levels afforded to have taken portraiture photographs.
In the nineteenth daguerreotype established the most popular form of portraiture in 1840s and 1850s. The daguerreotype was one of the best portraiture mediums that were unique and equally, because it was more and more accessible to masses, so a lot of the people had at least one portrait of their families or themselves.
The daguerreotype portrait underscored the extent to which photography was part of a new technology by releasing camera called Kodak. Kodak was one of the first companies to sell cameras that everyone could buy.