We’ve touched on some great subjects in this photography and critical intro session, from the camera obscura to the great race to ‘invent’ photography. These topics were something I knew as a result of browsing mildly interesting posts on the internet.
But what I found most intriguing was a talk we had about a French philosopher called Roland Barthes, a greatly written article on him has been written on bhpphotovideo.com and it’s more easier to understand than the book he’s written. Barthes states two principles that make your images much better, it’s two Latin words called studium and punctum. A reading handed out to us described it more thoroughly than I ever could, personally I think those two words are quite similar to each other, and upon reading a few articles it’s stated that you can indeed experience both punctum and studium at the same time. It’s defining something you always felt about an image but did not know if there is a word for it.
So let’s start with Studium, according to the reading given to me it has nothing to do with “study”. It’s the taste of someone, it’s rational principle, an element the photographer placed in the image to create an additional visual impact and is therefore part of studium. What draws attention in the image, a feeling caused by a social memory. I’d like to give an example with the burning monk picture I’ve chosen for the first week. The feelings of confusion, sadness, worry is to me what studium is.
Now punctum is the emotional, something beyond our idea to control. It’s something that the photographer did not put in the image intentionally, it’s quite subjective actually. I could try and elaborate a bit more by saying it’s an unexpected detail in certain photographs that affects us on a personal level. A feeling beling to oneself only. Something that just triggers a feeling in someone, very personal and private experience for example in which the photographer did not intend on.