Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes

Some suggested reading I undertook today to get a greater understanding of photography. I think broadening my research in this project by looking at sources other than photographers helped to inform and strengthen my theme. See below some analysis and quotes I found useful.

Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes – It was suggested that I read Camera Lucida to get a deeper understanding of photography particularly the relationship between photography and history. Barthes book reads like a critical essay which reflects on photography and the nature of photography. At first, I found it quite difficult to understand and draw ideas from bit I did find some gems which were of interest to me.

“…why choose (why photograph) this object, this moment, rather than some other? Photography is unclassifiable because there is no reason to mark this or that of its occurrences” – This speaks to the idea that people have an emotional connection to photography, they take pictures to ‘mark’ a moment because they want to remember it, because they love it. Which I think is relevant to the nature of my project .

“What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially” – To me this says that photographs have the ability to immortalise a moment, that moment can never be repeated the same except through a photograph which keeps it alive.

“What did I care about…. The other end, about the Photograph as a family rite” – Relates to the idea that the photograph is part of the family tradition which is something I was looking at through exploring the importance of the family album

“that rather terrible thing which is there in every photograph: the return of the dead” – photographs preserve subjects that are long dead, they keep the deed alive in this world.

“the Photomat always turns you into a criminal type, wanted by the police” – This quote touches on the nature of the photobooth, its limited angles and front facing nature create portraits which can be compared to mugshots.

“To see oneself (differently from in a mirror) : on the scale of History, this action is recent, the painted, drawn or miniaturized portrait having been , until the spread of Photography, a limited possession, intended moreover to advertise social and financial status” – I think this is discussing the idea that before photography the only way to preserve ones image was through painting and drawing which was mainly afforded to the elite and wealthy so it was  a status symbol. Photography made the practice of capturing others and oneself more universal and accessible

“For the Photograph is the advent of myself as other”

“In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want other to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am…. I invariably suffer from sensation of in-authenticity” – I thought this quote was the most interesting and I personally connected with it. I think it discusses the idea that when we are the subject of a photograph there is some inanthenticity to us, we are not who we are or the photographer thinks we are. Being in front of the camera transforms our identity.

Olivia Ezechukwu

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