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How to add "meaning" to a photograph


joolsb e2
10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
10 Sep 2013 9:31PM

Quote: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.


I'm glad you raised that. The original blog I linked to in the other thread was specifically about this very thing. Here's the image that was under discussion (by Jachin Mandeno):

6a00df351e888f88340192acb1a114970d-800wi.jpg



Not really very exciting. Not much 'meaning' there.

Now, here's the caption:


Quote:"Here we see a terminally ill minister (left) and a church elder discussing with church members the future of the church: what will happen when the minister is deceased? The minister was shorn by chemotherapy; and the elder shaved his head in solidarity. This photo was made in 2010."


Bit of a kicker, isn't it? Sort of changes the picture completely...

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Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
10 Sep 2013 9:42PM
Yes works fine here, but like I said adding some meaning to a photograph in the form of text or a title when there is no meaning or none that you can make out.

Your example is a little different to what I`m getting at.
arhb e2
7 2.5k 68 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2013 9:53PM

Quote: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.



I am agreeing - personal interpretation is important Smile
As for titles, I think they work on some images but not on others, but are not necessarily needed for images that have some meaning.
I am particularly interested in old movie promo posters, as they were used to convey information about a film/story, enough to create intrigue and interest( and some meaning), and within the limited space of an image.
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
10 Sep 2013 10:11PM

Quote:I am particularly interested in old movie promo posters, as they were used to convey information about a film/story, enough to create intrigue and interest( and some meaning), and within the limited space of an image


Me as well, I have a copy of "The Good German" filmed the old fashioned way in B&W, to me the filming styles and lighting adds meanings Smile

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p73Y3VVh3fM
arhb e2
7 2.5k 68 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2013 10:53PM
Looks good - can you upload the image they use to promote the film - like the dvd box cover image?

No need - I just found the new movie images, and a couple of images of the original - I prefer the original book cover.
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
11 Sep 2013 12:26AM
Lol I think my copy still has the original cover, but I prefer the film Smile


Quote: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


Two different views of death, do they need much in the way of added meaning.

My own

http://www.ephotozine.com/user/paul-morgan-599/gallery/photo/---19938735

And that of Walter Schels

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8aloTrUF-4
redhed17 e2
9 680 England
11 Sep 2013 10:06AM

Quote:
Quote:views of death, do they need much in the way of added meaning.

My own

http://www.ephotozine.com/user/paul-morgan-599/gallery/photo/---19938735




I can't say much about the Youtube links as I am on holiday with limited internet capabilities, but your image, after the initial working out of what the items were, conjured illness to me, not death. I just looked at the pic and didn't read what you wrote to accompany the image. So even though you may have meant to have a meaning of death in your pic, a viewer has misinterpreted the 'meaning'. :-/

You can plan to have whatever 'meaning' in your images, but the viewer will see what they will see, or not.

joolsb e2
10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
11 Sep 2013 11:52AM

Quote:Two different views of death, do they need much in the way of added meaning.

My own



I honestly didn't have the slightest idea what yours was about, Paul. It looked like a strange collection of vaguely medical objects. If you want people to take away a certain 'meaning' you need to provide some relevant clues... Alternatively, a bit of explanatory text. Wink Tongue

EDIT: just read your comment on the pic. Obviously a very personal meaning for you and the text does change the sense of the image just as in my example above.
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
11 Sep 2013 10:01PM
It wasn`t a planned shot, spur of the moment documenting things as they happened, well shortly afterwards.

I could have taken pictures of the deceased person lying on the floor, but it was not the way I wanted to remember my mother, and she always hated people taking pictures of her when she was not looking her best.


Quote:EDIT: just read your comment on the pic. Obviously a very personal meaning for you and the text does change the sense of the image just as in my example above


Yes like the one you posted Jools, but I suppose these shots are less about meaning and more about documenting.
JackAllTog e2
5 4.0k 58 United Kingdom
12 Sep 2013 2:27PM
Meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

I think the trick is to catch the attention of the viewer long enough to either discover their own meaning or uncover your meaning; If you need to add titles or descriptions to guide them to your meaning so be it.

So adding meaning to a photo for me means
Capturing local or personal interest - a family member or local scene presented nicely;
Or maybe drawing on commonly interpreted scenes about human emotion;
Or capturing the emptyness/space, or busyness of a scene - i.e human emotions we mostly associate with.
Or adding lots of situational context to a shoot to bring a dominant theme to the foreground

Personally I'm not presently looking to add meaning to most of my fashion based shots.

If we take all meaning from photos, do they fail to be artistic and instead just become technical records?
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
12 Sep 2013 4:12PM
I've just been shooting software engineers pretending to use some testing software, images for use on their website....

how could I have added meaning to that Wink

I got them looking puzzled, pointing at the screen, serious, smiling.... and the rest....

not sure about "meaning" there, but certainly has a "purpose" and using a 17mm lens about 5cm from the keyboard certainly added "interest" with a warped perspective


tonight I'm shooting a fitness instructor at a gym - she wants to do some fitness modelling... certainly got the body for it, virtually 0% body fat.... how should I add meaning to these shots...
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
12 Sep 2013 4:47PM

Quote:

tonight I'm shooting a fitness instructor at a gym - she wants to do some fitness modelling... certainly got the body for it, virtually 0% body fat.... how should I add meaning to these shots...



that same 17mm lens from a foot away at chest height. To quote your good self: "certainly added "interest" with a warped perspective "Tongue
joolsb e2
10 27.1k 38 Switzerland
12 Sep 2013 9:19PM

Quote:tonight I'm shooting a fitness instructor at a gym - she wants to do some fitness modelling... certainly got the body for it, virtually 0% body fat.... how should I add meaning to these shots...


Do you have to? You're shooting for a reason (presumably publicity for your subject) and for money. Surely 'meaning' is only relevant to images made for purely artistic purposes?
Paul Morgan e2
13 16.1k 6 England
12 Sep 2013 9:28PM
Yeh I think I mentioned something as well earlier in the thread Jools Smile

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