Week 2 – Photograph Analysis
As part of our week two seminar for Photography, we were told to choose an image out of the seven available to us and analyse it in our own personally way to essentially understand how everyone can view one specific thing differently. Rather than analysing an image in general, I have been provided with six questions which will enable me to look at my chosen image in more depth and understand all of the elements that are included in it in more detail. By analysing a specific image I will be able to understand it in more detail and see if there are certain features in the photograph that the photographer may have included that other viewers may not have noticed, or even taken into consideration when looking at the photograph. By analysing an image, I and many other people will be able to see that there are various meanings behind one photograph rather than there just being one specific meaning as the photographer may have interpreted the photograph in one way, but the viewer will most likely interpret it in another way.
Here is the image I have chosen to analyse:
What time period, decade or year do you think this photograph was created in? What visual cues support your choice?
There are actually quite a few visual elements included in this photograph which enables me to understand the time period of when this photograph was taken. From looking at the overall image, I would personally say that it would have been photographed in the early to mid 1990’s. Firstly, I got this type of vibe from the photograph due to the fact that the photograph has been taken on film rather than a digital camera – which therefore demonstrates that this photograph would have most likely been taken before the 2000’s – however, there were the occasional photographs that would have been taken on film in the early 2000’s. Moreover, you are able to see that the television show called ‘The Flintstones’ is being played on a television set which looks to be one that would have been available to individuals in the 1990’s. Judging from the location of the photograph, I get the sense that the subject is not rich – however, they are not too poor, so the television that they have would have been too expensive for someone that lives in the location of the subject in the photograph prior to the 1990’s. Personally, the overall look of the image has a very 1990’s aesthetic and vibe to me – which again, I can identify from many of the various elements included in the photograph.
Where in the world was this photograph taken? Again, please detail your reasons for asserting your choice.
As I said briefly in the answer to the question above, I think this photograph was taken in someones apartment, which I think is obvious due to the viewer being able to see the subject laying on the bed and watching television. Simultaneously, you are able to see that the subject is drinking alcohol (which appears to be beer to me) as bottles can be seen on top of the television and in front of it, but also he is smoking cigarettes, which implies to me that it is his own personal space and he is able to do whatever he wants in it whether it is smoking, drinking or just watching television while in bed. In terms of the overall location, I would say it is a lot harder to figure out due to the fact that I am not able to see more than the room that the subject is in. However, I believe that this image could have been taken in America and could potentially be situated in the poorer areas of New York as the room in this photograph is quite iconic and stereotyped for what an apartment in New York in the 1990’s looked like for individuals who may not have as much money as others.
In a short paragraph, how would you describe the key visual elements of the photograph? What is contained within the frame?
Although this may seem like a simple question, the key visual elements could appear differently to everyone that looks at the photograph. I would personally say that the objective view of this image is that there is a man smoking and drinking alcohol while laying on his bed and watching television all at the same time. However, a subjective view of this image could be that the subject could perhaps be wanting to go to sleep and is having to watch the television because the photographer wants to watch it (or perhaps someone else that could be in the room), so to distract himself from not being able to sleep, he resorts to smoking. This is just one way this image could be viewed – however, every viewer will interpret this image in a different way. Nonetheless, the image is mainly just about a man watching television in bed, while he drinks and smokes.
How is/are the human subject(s) of the photograph engaging with the camera/photographer?
From looking at this photograph, the viewer is able to see that there is only one subject present in the photograph and due to the fact that the subject is directly addressing the camera, it clearly means that the subject knows that the photograph was being taken by another individual in the room. Even if the subject was not directly addressing the camera, then he most likely would have still known that the photograph was being taken due to the fact that he is in an apartment room, which most likely is his personal space, so he would have had to allow another individual to come into his personal space and photograph him. Again, we do not know what the subject is doing exactly – however, from the facial expression that he is pulling, we could potentially say that the subject knew he was going to be photographed, but he did not know when he was going to be photographed, so it was more about the element of surprise when it came to taking a photograph of this subject.
What, if any directions do you think the photographer may have given to the subject(s) of the photograph?
Again, as I said in response to the previous question, I do not think that the photographer really directed the subject in any way. The viewer can clearly see that the photograph has been located in an apartment and from this I would say that when the photographer wanted to photograph this subject, he would have just told him to continue with whatever he was doing and then the photographer would photograph the subject whenever they though the time was right. However, the photographer could have possibly set up all of the features in the photograph to ensure that all of the elements that the photographer wanted to be seen in the photograph would be included. From analysing this image, I can see that there is a light source coming from behind the photographer on the left hand side and I believe that this could possibly be a lamp or some sort of external light to brighten up the room to ensure the subject can see what he is doing while he is still awake. This again implies to me that this image was not planned out as the lighting that has been used is what the subject generally has when in the apartment and no more external lights have been used to change the lighting of the overall photograph.
What do you believe the photographer wants, you, the viewer to take from the image?
As I have said before, everyone will view and interpret things differently due to the fact that everyone will see things in their own way. However, I personally think the photographer just wanted to demonstrate to the viewer what someones from a poorer background who lives in New York does during the night to enable people who may not live in the same way as this subject to see how someone like him may be living. On top of that, the photographer may have just wanted to capture the moment – I say this due to the fact that as I have established, I think the image was not planned out and was just taken whenever the photographer wanted to take the image and also there is nothing out of the ordinary occurring, which in a way tells me that the photographer may be someone who is close to the subject as they are in the subjects personal space – therefore, they are just taking this photograph to keep it as a memory and to essentially just capture the moment that is occurring.
Week 9 – An Attempt At Exhausting A Place In Lincoln (Minerva Building Canteen)
During this weeks seminar, we were tasked with going out to a location by ourselves to observe all of the elements that were occurring around us for 25 minutes. In this time, I had to think about what I was seeing, hearing, smelling and also the smaller details in relation to everything – such as: the colour of an object, what an individual may be doing and why I think they may be doing this. We mainly had to undergo this task in relation to the reading we had to do for George Perec’s ‘An Attempt At Exhausting A Place In Paris’ – where he mainly looks at the details of everything around him and what impact it may have on himself and other individuals. I decided that I wanted to go to the canteen to do this task as I knew there would be a lot going on there and that I would be able to pay a lot of attention and detail to.
Here are all of the elements I found:
- People laughing
- A woman walking in black heels
- White chairs being dragged across the floor
- People walking with a white cup of coffee
- Brown doors swinging as people walk in and out of them
- People on their laptops and phones
- People buying food at the cafe
- Multiple brown desks layered on top of each other
- Smell of cleaning products on the table
- Sound of cutlery colliding with each other
- A creaking sound coming from the black vending machine
- Someone opening a packet of crisps
- A wet brown table
- A cash machine – sound of someone pressing the buttons on it
- A man coughing
- Rattling keys on a woman’s cyan lanyard
- A man rolling a black suitcase across the floor
- People walking down the silver/grey stairs
- A female cleaning the brown tables with a transparent spray and blue cloth
- A female drinking a water through a transparent plastic bottle
- A baby in a blue pram with two adults
- Someone walking while talking on the phone
- A man delivering multiple brown boxes to the shop
- People dropping food on the floor
- A man crouching on the floor to tie his shoelace
- A man bouncing a green ball on the floor
- A copper statue with shining lights in a glass box
- A man whistling
When sitting down and concentrating on everything that was occurring around me, it made me think about how different individuals will view specific elements in the world and how everyone is so different in their day to day lives. I believe that it was interesting just to sit down and watch people and objects to see what occurs, but at the same time, you are able to think about why that specific thing may be occurring or why someone may be doing something in their lives. I also thought a lot about the colours that have been used and how these may have an effect on someone – for example, the colour of all of the tables in the canteen were a brown colour, which is quite a bland colour – however, it is better to be bland than bold and this is due to the fact that if the colours were too bold than for some people they will be subjectively unappealing to look at and could perhaps strain their eyes, so it is best for the colours of natural and everyday things to be quite bland and neutral. Overall, I now comprehend Perec’s concept in more detail as I can understand that when you really sit and think about something that is occurring, then you will understand it in more detail and also what impact it could perhaps have on people.