“The relationship between what we see and what we know is never settled”. John Berger.
When given a photograph you read all four corners of the image. You look at parts within that photograph to determine meaning (the internal structure of an image).
John Berger states “All photographs are ambiguous”. A photograph has fact of object, but any analysis is surely false. “Only occasionally is an image self-sufficient” Jean Matr.
Berger lists reasons why photographs are ambiguous. There is a conflict of interest. A meeting place where interests come together.
a) The Photographer
b) The Photographed
c) The Viewer. Eyes in the future. We might look at the picture through romantic eyes. Time breads nostalgia that is nothing to do with the original photo.
d) Those who are using the Photograph.
Berger also argues that another reason for ambiguity is its lack of content. Single photos are fragments taken out of a continuity (of real-time). The make no sense. We make sense of an image only by lending them a continuity ourselves.
“The pro photographer tries when taking a photo to choose an instant which will persuade the public viewer to lend it an appropriate past and future“. John Berger.
For Berger you can eliminate ambiguity by adding text or a caption. This provides a context. However some writers say that the text limits the photograph. Text has a kind of voice. Image has another. The picture can be manipulated through text.
Another Way of Telling. John Berger & Jean Mohr.
Photographs don’t lie–or do they? Another way of telling explores the tension between the photographer and the photographed, between picture and viewer, and between the filmed moment and memories it resembles.
The Spoken Image: Photography and Language. Clive Scott.
Language has always been central to the meaning and exploitation of photographic images. However, the various types and ‘styles’ of language associated with different photographic genres have been largely overlooked. This book considers the nature of photography, examining the language used in titles, captions and commentaries, particularly as they relate to documentary photography, photojournalism and fashion photography.
Context as a Determinant of Photographic Meaning. Walker, J.