Camera Lucida; Reflections on Photography, Roland Barthes.

I thought this reading portrayed a very interesting perception of photography & journey of thought. Roland Barthes recounts his own perception upon photography. He states how the photograph reproduces to infinity what has occurred only once and therefore photographs as ‘the return of the dead’. He reflects on his amazement encountering a photograph of Napoleons youngest brother interpreting it in a way that nobody else shared. He acknowledged that by looking at this photograph he was looking into the eyes that have looked at the emperor. This aspect is what I enjoy about photography, as an audience you are seemingly experiencing an infinite moment in time and as the photographer you are capturing that moment.

Barthes explains that a photograph cannot be equally experienced just with words. He states that the photograph is never interpreted for what it represents, instead the audience initially only perceives what is physically within the image. For example ‘a pipe is always a pipe’. I personally disagree with this statement, especially within abstract photography where the subject is not identifiable the entire photograph is left for interpretation. Even portraits still embody a certain ‘mood’. For example Diane Arbus’s the ‘Jewish Giant’ portrays a non-belonging and sorrowful mood.

Barthes also states that a photograph is always invisible, it is not what we see. We see the scene that it portray whatever that be. He also goes onto question why has the photographer chosen this point in time, this occasion to capture out of the trillions of moments we live each day.

Barthes possesses a truly outside the box outlook upon photography which I think it’s truly riveting to explore his concepts.

Author: tjphoto

UON Design Student & Photographer Newcastle, AU

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