...but what is the image about?

Photo © Rhonda Prince

Sunday evening is the time to find the preachings of Mr Urbano on 591. If he is not busy watching "La Liga" or building space ships, you may occasionally find some wise words here. Watching thinking spots photographed by Rhonda Prince is indeed inspiring and meditative. The subject of today's preaching is "It is all about the image - but what is the image about?"

The power of the photographic image is evident.
But very few people know how to analyze a photograph. Is it important then? Why not leave the image as it is? Christer Strömholm said "The meaning(essence) of an image is what it depicts (represents) (my translation)- Vad bilden föreställer är dess mening. I think Strömholm is suggesting that we need to look at an image as a whole - not analyze it in its specific parts like composition, background, motif etc.

A couple of weeks ago when working on the introduction of 591, I found a very interesting article about Virginia Woolf and her views on the photographic image:FindArticles - Virginia Woolf and the problematic nature of the photographic imageTwentieth Century Literature, Spring, 1994, by Helen Wussow

Virginia Woolf used photographs in Orlando: A Biography (1928), Flush: A Biography (1933), Three Guineas (1938), and Roger Fry: A Biography (1940).

Helen Wussow points out that Woolf chose photographs for the books from an ironical point of view. She "chose the images in order to make the argument that photographs can be manipulated and supposedly hard factual evidence weighted on the side of one's argument."

Woolf's thinkings about the photographic image were almost right down to the point - in any case if we look at the way photographs were used as propaganda during the prewar period when those books were published. This image from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum showing friendship between an "Aryan" and a black woman was used as Nazi propaganda - the byline reads:
"The result! A loss of racial pride"

My point is that we should not only look at what the image depicts or the technique used, but also be aware of the image as a whole. Why was it taken, where and why was it published or exhibited, by whom, for what purpose etc. If we for a moment are serious about the image and photography, such an approach could help us better understand the impact, the power of the photographic image.


Anonymous said…
....image is about things can not be describe in words.... !!!

br said…
another consideration: who is the photographer? not her/his name but what allows for the photographer to be in front of their subject? their economic status, their fame, their passport? i think as photographers we must look at ourselves and question everything.
Rhonda Boocock said…
Well said bea! Photography becomes the witness of the photographers relationships and experiences.