This lecture was focused around photography, more specifically its history and how the context of an image influences how the viewer perceives it. We were shown the first ever photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce taken with a method called camera obsura, around the early 1800s. A camera obscure works by being in a completely dark room and having a small hole/opening to allow light into the room. The resulting outcome is a upside down image of whatever’s outside.
Image by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce; first photograph.
We were then shown this image by David Burnett.This image shows people gathered waiting for a rare species of bird. As this was the first time I’ve seen the image it seemed believable. However this image is actually a crowd waiting for the launch of Apollo 11 in 1996. Now this seems more believable. It really goes to show that you can caption a picture with anything, and that rather than the content of the image being important, it’s what information we are given that influences our preception of it.New we’re shown more examples of this. Cropping the same image to change the message of the image.
We also looked at images of children from the Victorian era. The children in these images were dead, usually kept proped up by parents or a brace of some sort. This was the norm in that time. They kept these images to remember them by. Before knowing any of this the images just looked like they were ordinary portraits. Upon learning the actuality of them it was chilling at the start. However this was the norm in those times and I’m sure they helped the, through times of grief.
Roland Barthes ‘Camera Lucida’ was our focus text. In this text Barthes talks about how he is not himself in an image, but a variant. ‘ I do not stop imitating myself, and because of this, each time I am (or let myself be) photographed, I inevitably suffer from a sensation inauthenticity.’ He suggests that he is not himself in a photograph, the act of posing changes the subject and there behaviour when in front of the lens.
I found the extract to be insightful. I’ve never thought about photography in such a way. The idea that the subject is merely an object and that truly capturing a human is not a easy feat. Photographer Philip DiCorciahas a series of candid portraits of individuals he shot without there knowledge. It can be argued that it is an invasion of privacy, however his images capture them unposed and almost innocently, without any knowledge of the lens that is focused on them. The image below is from DiCorcia’s series.