I am reading Roland Barthes ‘Camera Lucida’ at the moment, although I think I might need to re-read it as soon as I reach the last page at this rate. My rusty little brain is not coping so well with its intellectual depth.
He describes the way we engage with photographs in a very interesting way. How one person might look at a photograph and enjoy it for a number of different reasons – you might be interested in the historical or cultural context of the picture, what it tells you about people and places either from the past or from the present. It might be an aesthetic interest; compositionally, artistically or intellectually. You might have some or all of these, you might understand and connect with the photographer’s intention, share affinity, empathise, sympathise with it. All these connections that you might make with a picture, that makes it meaningful and/or enjoyable to you.
And this will be the case in nine hundred and ninety-nine photographs.
The one thousandth photograph will be the one that ‘wounds’ you. Punctures you inexplicably. Connects to some visceral part of your being and your reaction to it will be from your core – the desire and the pain – that you do not experience with the other nine hundred and ninety-nine. Whilst you might share a common affinity of understanding and appreciation with all of those, everyone’s experience of the one that wounds is unique.
Made me think two things.
1. Pictures are just like people.
2. I need to take better pictures.