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How to add "meaning" to a photograph

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redhed17
redhed17  8658 forum posts England
7 Sep 2013 - 9:05 PM

Following on from the other thread, I happened to go and see the Sebastiao Salgado Genesis Exhibition today, and a lot of those pics had me thinking wow first, Wink but also what? where? who? It may not be 'meaning' bit it did give the picture something beyond the 'wow, that's an amazing scene' to give a bit more 'depth'. I don't know why he took pics of penguins, tribes in africa/central america, whales, stunning landscapes etc to be grouped together in one body of work.

According to some blurb about the Exhibition,
Quote: “In GENESIS, my camera allowed nature to speak to me. And it was my privilege to listen.” —Sebastião Salgado


Quote: What does one discover in GENESIS? The animal species and volcanoes of the Galápagos; penguins, sea lions, cormorants, and whales of the Antarctic and South Atlantic; Brazilian alligators and jaguars; African lions, leopards, and elephants; the isolated Zo’é tribe deep in the Amazon jungle; the Stone Age Korowai people of West Papua; nomadic Dinka cattle farmers in Sudan; Nenet nomads and their reindeer herds in the Arctic Circle; Mentawai jungle communities on islands west of Sumatra; the icebergs of the Antarctic; the volcanoes of Central Africa and the Kamchatka Peninsula; Saharan deserts; the Negro and Juruá rivers in the Amazon; the ravines of the Grand Canyon; the glaciers of Alaska... and beyond. Having dedicated so much time, energy, and passion to the making of this work, Salgado likens GENESIS to “my love letter to the planet.”

So on the surface, and without going more into it, he wanted to take pictures of the planet, and any other 'meaning' you assign to the pictures is what it means to you, and not what the photographer may intended, which is fine. But just because you don't get the 'meaning' of picture doesn't mean you haven't/can't appreciate a pic. And if you don't like a pic, it's not because you didn't 'get it', it may mean you just don't like the pic.

Like I said in the other thread, if I have to know/read the story to 'appreciate' the picture, then the picture hasn't worked. Imho. If the picture attracts you, and then also makes you think Who? What? Where? How?, then that is a successful image, again imho. Some would have you try and find the meaning about every poor pic because there 'may' be a story/meaning behind it, especially if it is coming from a 'pro', because they don't take poor pics do they? There must be a reason the photographer has made it 'look' so bad. Wink It could be just a poorly taken boring pic, pro or not.

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7 Sep 2013 - 9:05 PM

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cameracat
cameracat  108578 forum posts Norfolk Island61 Constructive Critique Points
7 Sep 2013 - 9:30 PM

Answer = 52.

Tongue

joolsb
joolsb  927115 forum posts Switzerland38 Constructive Critique Points
7 Sep 2013 - 9:56 PM


Quote: You are doing the very thing so many people do, you say it has meaning but don't say what meaning.

You know, I could have done. I could have said a lot about that picture but well, frankly, I couldn't be a*sed.

And you keep on ducking the question. Why are photographs meaningless and any attempt to ascribe meaning just artybollox in your view? I think quite a few photographers would take issue with this contention so you must have a good defence lined up...

redhed17
redhed17  8658 forum posts England
7 Sep 2013 - 10:02 PM


Quote: Answer = 52.

Tongue

I think you'll find the answer is 42. Wink Grin

lobsterboy
lobsterboy Site Moderator 1014148 forum postslobsterboy vcard United Kingdom13 Constructive Critique Points
7 Sep 2013 - 10:17 PM


Quote: Answer = 52.
Tongue

I think you'll find the answer is 42. Wink Grin

I think you need to check your figures, you don't seem to have allowed for inflation.

lemmy
lemmy  71883 forum posts United Kingdom
7 Sep 2013 - 10:17 PM


Quote:

You know, I could have done. I could have said a lot about that picture but well, frankly, I couldn't be a*sed. And you keep on ducking the question. Why are photographs meaningless and any attempt to ascribe meaning just artybollox in your view?

You've very neatly underlined my own view. You say something has meaning because you can't be arsed (read bothered) to say what meaning.

If you feel a picture has impact for some reason, say why. To say it has 'meaning' is intellectually lazy. It is not that there is nothing to say about a picture, it is that some people are just too lazy to think what the meaning is and to put it into words.

SlowSong
SlowSong e2 Member 64445 forum postsSlowSong vcard England29 Constructive Critique Points
7 Sep 2013 - 10:37 PM

But what is "meaning"? If someone can answer that question for me then I'll start thinking about things about more seriously.

lemmy
lemmy  71883 forum posts United Kingdom
7 Sep 2013 - 10:57 PM


Quote: But what is "meaning"? If someone can answer that question for me then I'll start thinking about things about more seriously.

That is what, in my own long winded way, I have been attempting to find out. I wish I'd summed it up as concisely.

derekhansen
derekhansen e2 Member 5185 forum postsderekhansen vcard United Kingdom23 Constructive Critique Points
7 Sep 2013 - 11:42 PM

I believe the need for meaning in photographs is to a large degree dependent on genre. It may be essential in photo journalism but in landscape mostly irrelevant. What is common to all genres is that good photography provokes an emotional response.

ade_mcfade
ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014817 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
8 Sep 2013 - 8:30 AM

what is the "meaning" of that tree at Malham I keep getting paid to take people to?

Wink

brian1208
brian1208 e2 Member 1110294 forum postsbrian1208 vcard United Kingdom12 Constructive Critique Points
8 Sep 2013 - 8:34 AM


Quote: What is the "meaning" of that tree at Malham I keep getting paid to take people to? Wink

A few bob in you pocket, at the lowest level Wink

ade_mcfade
ade_mcfade e2 Member 1014817 forum postsade_mcfade vcard England216 Constructive Critique Points
8 Sep 2013 - 8:35 AM

lowest?

without that I'd be homeless - pretty high on my agenda Wink

Graysta
Graysta  91135 forum posts England
8 Sep 2013 - 9:00 AM

ade
I think this will run for quite a while. And now it's bugging me so I am going to try to find an answer.
I could be gone a while.

joolsb
joolsb  927115 forum posts Switzerland38 Constructive Critique Points
8 Sep 2013 - 9:19 AM


Quote: You've very neatly underlined my own view. You say something has meaning because you can't be arsed (read bothered) to say what meaning.

If you feel a picture has impact for some reason, say why. To say it has 'meaning' is intellectually lazy. It is not that there is nothing to say about a picture, it is that some people are just too lazy to think what the meaning is and to put it into words.

I did exactly that in the other thread that Ade mentioned at the start of this one. For each one of ten separate images that I linked to. So I felt there was no need to labour the point by discussing a famous image in which scores of other people have found 'meaning' and have written about at length.

lemmy
lemmy  71883 forum posts United Kingdom
8 Sep 2013 - 9:35 AM


Quote: without that I'd be homeless - pretty high on my agenda

To think that money enters your head at all in connection with photography is completely unacceptable. Personally, given a tree such meaning and indeed limestone with such meaning, I would burst into tears with the sheer weight of meaning. I would take my clients there for nothing simply to share the meaning with them. I would be happy to be homeless knowing that my clients were going home with meaning, the more the better.

In fact, I intend to set up in competition to ade_mcfade.

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