Thoughts and opinions about the art of photography.


Artistic photographers have a desire, nevertheless a need, to communicate with the public. It is true that this public is motivated/differentiated depending on how easy and clear are the messages he sends them through his work. The public is also drawn by the social character of the work.

It is even possible the artist to have a desire to create without being interested to communicate directly with the recipients of his own emotional charge.

Communication through the means of photographic impression (form+content) has no other base except a general view of Esthetics expressed as a means of communication through the coherence and analysis of semantics of the photographic image.

A full understanding of photography includes usage of elements of its language. In other words, we organize "reading & writing" under certain rules that evoke quickly and effectively emotional desires and reactions.

The photographic language yields both knowledge and strong emotions. We can activate emotional reactions (time of shoot) or perception processes during time of viewing (time of enjoyment).

The photographic image evolves concurrently with its quality and theoretical structure.

The semiology of photographic impressions was born out of the need  of the photographer creator as well as the need of the viewer to comprehend, to delve into the objective and subjective truth/reality/point of viewing/reading the points of the images and take a stance adjusting himself and his relationship with it. The semiology of photographic image intends to create in the viewer's mind a creative attitude/conscience/approach (value) enabling him at the same time to judge/be convinced with specific events or actions. By reading the images, binds/constraints/links of/to the intellectual process are created.

Chaussure claims that the point is "the whole that emerges/is revealed by linking the means (in our case the photographic image) with the content (meaning/concept). There is no rule in forming the means. Formation is personalized. The following though structure of concepts between means-content is a consequence of an association of ideas. We carne across these forms (means) that will lead us to the corresponding concepts (content), when we read a photographic image.

According to Pierce, a point is something that replaces some other point through a relation or an ability, it is addressing/directed somewhere (human mind) and creates an equivalent point or a more developed one. Hence, the point takes the place of the subject it replaces.

A photograph can transfer/emit/display/evoke/transmit knowledge and emotional reactions.

The psychological effects of the analysis of a photograph to an individual or a group of people may play a significant role in decision making. In most cases, an individual is facing reality through the photographs. The photographic image can record in its own unique way social problems, wars, dreams and hopes of the working class for a better future, our environment where we live. It can also be a source of information to the mass media but at the same time support opposing views. There is significant experience to be gained when someone views at photographs with their historical or even their psychological dimension. We send one or more messages in optical communication using a particular mean. in photography, the message is carried across with the intervention of time and space. .

The recipient-viewer develops social awareness for the events taking place around him. Photographs in the press (printed) have increased their reach to convey messages to a large numbers of people-the readers of the printed material. The different media (printed press, radio, TV) reach the recipient-viewer simultaneously and although he has been in a different state of mind, they can make him tragically indifferent to the content of the messages, by showing/demonstrating a pathetic stance. In that way, messages are leveled and loose their dynamic as well as their differences.

Nevertheless, I would like to believe that every photograph can possibly make s small revolution, without necessarily involving a political and social dead end, without selling/bargaining political products, without cheating in a big way, without making the creator feel a vast emptiness.

We may then see through/with the light strips that go through the aperture of the photographic camera, all the esthetic and logical points viewed under the prism of "points inventor".

We, the creators of photographic images as well as the viewers, will feel that we touch reality through the images. Are we simple consumers of mass media or lovers of the beauty through the photographic images? Everything probably depends from the viewing level and the degree of enjoyment of the photographic work and the degree of communication through the image with the creator. Human civilization has evolved/progressed and reached today's enviable high level by using different pieces of information originating from visual, audio and other forms of speech with a strong social character.

Language is nothing more than a structured system of communication used to convey/transmit messages. It is a point system of communication because it consists of points. The points in the reading form of a language are not isolated and unstructured but form organized structured systems of communication. Learning and mastering a language comes after hard work. Our mother tongue has a precise structure, grammatical rules and we need to study how to use it in order to express ourselves with it. Similarly, an optical language, in our case photography, has its own elements we must comprehend fully in order to express ourselves through it.

The components whose analysis will assist us understand its operation are the shape of the photograph; the area described/specified/formed by natural or artificial light, the motion described by either timing or rhythm, the texture and the poetic elements in the expression. If we want to understand and analyze the points of the photographic language, we must stop seeing them superficially. We must dedicate enough time to read a photograph. The points of that photograph could possibly differentiate the reading because they (points) will be perceived in different ways by individuals who will decode them. This is natural/expected up to a point because reading a photograph does not depend on a specific timing. The recipient-viewer depending on his age, special interests, nationality, occasionally his hobbies, education, social status, political convictions, wit! perceive in his own unique way the social events from the content of the photograph much the same way the creator-photographer carries with him at the time of the magical click, decades of experience,

There are certain basic principles in optical communication, much like in . any communication form. In the simplest form of optical communication, we have a transmitter-creator, at least one message, the means used to code and deliver the message and the receiver-viewer. The transmitter-creator must fit the message in the transmission means used, he must code it. This coding assumes one at least person or object to refer to.

The receiver-viewer must t receive the message and comprehend it the same way it was perceived by its transmitter-creator, he must decode it correctly. The function of optical communication can be shown in the following scheme:

TRANSMITTER - CREATOR -----~-----------> ---~-------------> RECEIVER - VIEWER


It is assumed that in order to transfer a message from the transmitter-creator to the receiver-viewer, the coexistence of points, a communication device or means and a coding system. The receiver-viewer must decode them first correctly in order to understand them. The communication process is perceived successful when the receiver-viewer has fully understood all the messages the transmitter- creator has sent him.

The point in optical communication, if analyzed, consists of one or more ideas/points of views of the graphical message and refers to one or more inner meanings. The relation between the terms "points of view" and "inner meaning" derives from the cultural level of the receiver-viewer. The receivers- viewers will comprehend in different ways the "inner meaning", while there will probably a complete match in the first stage of reading, the description of point of view.

When we want to verbally analyze a photograph in the first viewing, we simply recognize what the picture describes. We will call this stage of reading point of view. The inner meaning or meanings in a photograph possibly direct us to certain coherent thoughts / train thoughts / association of ideas. The end result of these coherent thoughts will be called inner meaning.

In order to analyze correctly the optical message we receive through a photograph, we must evaluate/go through/test/consider the following factors: The environment where the photograph was taken, the technique used, the kinds of lenses used during the shoot, its texture, the tonality/range of tones, cold or warm tones during the printing stage, its composition, even how colors, lights, motion, rhythm interplay in the composition. etc.

The relation of the photographic image between reality and the time and place taken.

The points in the photographic image that signify/convey/hint precisely this relation.

The relation between the transmitter-photographer with the objectivity of the event / happening / fact being described, must be also examined.

How, why and in what direction the photographer "shuts". Only if we have clear answers to these questions can we expect true/realistic photographic reading/understanding.

Finally, the transmitter-photographer is the one individual who will decide whether through the desired communication with the recipients-viewers of his photographs, he intends/wants to address the "average viewer:", the "large crowds" or the more sophisticated public, the ones of the "limited circle".

© 1998     Grigorios Vlassas


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