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How to add "meaning" to a photograph


brian1208 Plus
11 10.6k 12 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2013 9:08AM

Quote:so the problem lies with the use of "meaning"

I've always used "interest"

I liked Keith's "purpose" too actually.

Meaning seemed a bit abstract when I read Jools' comment in the other thread.

so using "purpose and interest".....



Good call Ade, that I can understand and it brings a different perspective to the discussion

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ade_mcfade Plus
10 15.1k 216 England
10 Sep 2013 12:39PM
Explaining "why" you did something (in a photo) to people seems really helpful - "I put the tree here because....." or "I took it from this angle to show more of the client's logo....." or "I waited for a passer by to walk into this space because....." etc.

Trying to ascribe "meaning".... I didn't really "get" that
joolsb 10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
10 Sep 2013 1:00PM

Quote:If someone has to tell you the meaning in a pic, and it is what the photographer meant, then the photographer has failed.


Lots of great art (and I mean paintings from the Renaissance onwards) have subtly layered meaning. In a great many cases, if you know the Bible really well you will probably be able to read the picture like a book. If your knowledge of the Bible is as hazy as mine, you'll get more out of the image if you ask an expert to point out the subtle symbolism, hints and cues that your eye just doesn't register. Has such a picture failed?

I prefer subtle images to obvious ones any day. And if I can't understand an image straight away, I seek to educate myself a little.
cattyal Plus
9 6.5k 6 England
10 Sep 2013 2:19PM
Someone once wrote a load of waffle about this old photo of mine......

24-image1.jpg



"Domesticated Items suggest an enculturated, feminine defined role. An ironing board. The iron. markers, to a repressive, feminine identity crisis - set. Cultural signifiers. noosed to a neck. Unified/dis-unified. Domesticated items suggest an enculturated, masculine defined role. A twin set. A Tie, a semantic double entendre, pin-striped.

A white shirt. markers, to a repressive, masculine identity crisis - set. Cultural signifiers, noosed to a neck.
The Markers to Femininity/masculinity culturally implied. Photographically neutered. Fleshy clues zeoroed. No breasts. No pectorals. No nipples. No ears. No eyes. No Mouth.
The absence of a nose. Materialist sense organs, denied. Bandaged, to cosmetic perfection. hospitalized . The crime scene of cultural identity.

A semiotic insanity, or, prelude to transcendental integration, beyond a she or a He. A feminized item, held in Dexterís right hand of the aggressors law. A masculinized item, held in Sinisterís passive paw. Equiposed. Suspended animations of the self, meditatively trapped. "


Blimey - all I did was wrap a bandage round my head and pick up the iron!
ade_mcfade Plus
10 15.1k 216 England
10 Sep 2013 2:19PM
fair point about the old arty stuff - I've seen loads of galleries and enjoyed the art, then seen the same shots on telly (bbc4 usually) and had the whole lot explained... the Night Watch by Rembrandt being the main one... I was mainly blown away by the size when I saw it in the flesh, but once it was described it took on a whole different life

stuff hanging out of their pockets has huge significance... stuff you'd probably never really notice or attribute any meaning to!
joolsb 10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
10 Sep 2013 3:06PM

Quote:Blimey - all I did was wrap a bandage round my head and pick up the iron!


Ah, but why? I mean you must have thought about what you were hoping to achieve by taking that photograph? A certain look? An unsettling twist on household chores? Trying to suggest that women are somehow faceless? Or that they don't have a voice? Or perhaps a comment on cosmetic surgery?

Point is, it's a very open-ended image and you can read what you like into it. Which may well have been your intention all along.... Wink
cattyal Plus
9 6.5k 6 England
10 Sep 2013 3:24PM
Truthfully I don't ever recall trying to put across any kind of message in one of my photos. They really are just random ideas stuck together to see how they come out.

Someone once found one of my pics of a pile of mushrooms with one hanging down disturbing as it made them think of suicide! oops......

But yes - I'm more than happy for people to read whatever they want into my images - it's certainly easier than trying to be deep and meaningful!
ade_mcfade Plus
10 15.1k 216 England
10 Sep 2013 4:07PM
very similar really...

I tend to choose locations and see what happens - rather than go out with a specific idea. I have art directors badgering me with specific ideas so going out "planless" is a relief Wink
ade_mcfade Plus
10 15.1k 216 England
10 Sep 2013 5:00PM
that said, just had a call from a chef (old friend, been on telly a few times) and we're now meticulously planning a shoot for his new restaurant and PR....

we've discussed just about every possible location in the north.... eeek
peterjones 13 4.1k 1 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2013 7:43PM

Quote:Truthfully I don't ever recall trying to put across any kind of message in one of my photos. They really are just random ideas stuck together to see how they come out.

Someone once found one of my pics of a pile of mushrooms with one hanging down disturbing as it made them think of suicide! oops......

But yes - I'm more than happy for people to read whatever they want into my images - it's certainly easier than trying to be deep and meaningful!



Love this excellent post Grin It puts the word "meaning" firmly in it's place.

Peter.
Paul Morgan 13 16.3k 6 England
10 Sep 2013 8:30PM

Quote:If someone has to tell you the meaning in a pic, and it is what the photographer meant, then the photographer has failed.

Lots of great art (and I mean paintings from the Renaissance onwards) have subtly layered meaning. In a great many cases, if you know the Bible really well you will probably be able to read the picture like a book. If your knowledge of the Bible is as hazy as mine, you'll get more out of the image if you ask an expert to point out the subtle symbolism, hints and cues that your eye just doesn't register. Has such a picture failed?

I prefer subtle images to obvious ones any day. And if I can't understand an image straight away, I seek to educate myself a little.



You can appreciate great art without knowing its meaning.

What I`m talking about are people adding meanings to photographs in the form of a title or text when the work itself has no visible meaning or very little.
arhb Plus
7 2.6k 68 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2013 8:42PM

Quote:If someone has to tell you the meaning in a pic, and it is what the photographer meant, then the photographer has failed.

lol
so no personal interpretation allowed then?
Where and why does the pass/fail come into it?

Extend the same logic to a song, where the artist sings the words to the listener, and every listener takes the same meaning from the song? - don't think so.
Paul Morgan 13 16.3k 6 England
10 Sep 2013 8:51PM

Quote:so no personal interpretation allowed then?
Where and why does the pass/fail come into it?



Did you read my last comment ?
arhb Plus
7 2.6k 68 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2013 9:15PM
The only association to your post Paul, was to use the same quote that you did.
Paul Morgan 13 16.3k 6 England
10 Sep 2013 9:26PM
Sorry but I thought my last post was pretty clear.

Don`t you think that leaving a little to the imagination is good, or should you always spell it out with an appropriate title and a load of text (often meaningless) to explain the meaning of a photograph.

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