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Analysis of Discourses Encompassing the 'Migrant Mother' Picture
Unformatted Document Text:  4 angle, or the focal length of lens, a photographer can achieve an infinite number of varied compositions with a single, stationary subject. It was also stressed that the values and judgments of the photographer are involved in taking a photograph. The values of the photographer influence the photographer’s decision on what is worth recording and the way he/she ‘sees’ the subject of the photograph (Berger, 1974; Mraz, 1991). John Berger (1974) notes: A photograph is a message about the event that it records. The message is; I have decided that seeing this is worth recording. The photograph is an automatic record through the mediation of light of a given event: yet it uses the given event to explain its recording. Photography is the process of rendering observation self-conscious. The photographer's judgments are also involved when he/she chooses what will go inside the bright line of the viewfinder (Becker, 1974). Framing is one of the key decisions. By including (or omitting) certain elements or emphasizing (or suppressing) some elements, the photographer can influence the finished print. A photographer can exert a strong influence on how a particular ‘reality’ is depicted through choices of what, how and when to take their pictures (Becker, 1974, 1978; Burgin, 1977). These interventions of human in the photograph (framing, distance, lighting, focus, and speed) all effectively belong to the plane of connotation. Barthes (1977a) argues that the photograph seems to have only a denoted message, devoid of all cultural determination, but it also has a connoted meaning-- invested, culturally determined meaning. In terms of Barthes, a photographic image is ‘polysemic’. The polysemy of the photographic image is controlled by the contexts in which the image is placed or used. First, it is controlled by an internal context. Trachtenberg (1989) argues that an individual image should have a meaningful statement within an encompassing structure otherwise it would remain dangerously isolated and misleading. Burgin (1997) notes that the meaning of the image is controlled by its juxtaposition with a verbal text. In addition to this verbal context, a photograph is given a new significance in the montage relationships with other photographic images. Different parts or characteristics of a photograph are emphasized when displayed in a different context with other photographs (Walker, 1997; Levine, 1988). Sekula (1982) suggests that “only by its embeddedness in a concrete discourse situation can the photograph yield a clear semantic outcome. Any given photograph is conceivably open to appropriation by a range of ‘texts’, each new discourse situation generating its own set of messages” (p. 91). Second, an image’s external context is also considered as a determining condition

Authors: Choi, Hyunju.
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angle, or the focal length of lens, a photographer can achieve an infinite number of varied
compositions with a single, stationary subject.
It was also stressed that the values and judgments of the photographer are involved
in taking a photograph. The values of the photographer influence the photographer’s
decision on what is worth recording and the way he/she ‘sees’ the subject of the
photograph (Berger, 1974; Mraz, 1991). John Berger (1974) notes:
A photograph is a message about the event that it records. The message is; I
have decided that seeing this is worth recording. The photograph is an
automatic record through the mediation of light of a given event: yet it uses
the given event to explain its recording. Photography is the process of
rendering observation self-conscious.
The photographer's judgments are also involved when he/she chooses what will go
inside the bright line of the viewfinder (Becker, 1974). Framing is one of the key decisions.
By including (or omitting) certain elements or emphasizing (or suppressing) some
elements, the photographer can influence the finished print. A photographer can exert a
strong influence on how a particular ‘reality’ is depicted through choices of what, how and
when to take their pictures (Becker, 1974, 1978; Burgin, 1977).
These interventions of human in the photograph (framing, distance, lighting, focus,
and speed) all effectively belong to the plane of connotation. Barthes (1977a) argues that
the photograph seems to have only a denoted message, devoid of all cultural determination,
but it also has a connoted meaning-- invested, culturally determined meaning. In terms of
Barthes, a photographic image is ‘polysemic’.
The polysemy of the photographic image is controlled by the contexts in which the
image is placed or used. First, it is controlled by an internal context. Trachtenberg (1989)
argues that an individual image should have a meaningful statement within an
encompassing structure otherwise it would remain dangerously isolated and misleading.
Burgin (1997) notes that the meaning of the image is controlled by its juxtaposition with a
verbal text. In addition to this verbal context, a photograph is given a new significance in
the montage relationships with other photographic images. Different parts or
characteristics of a photograph are emphasized when displayed in a different context with
other photographs (Walker, 1997; Levine, 1988). Sekula (1982) suggests that “only by its
embeddedness in a concrete discourse situation can the photograph yield a clear semantic
outcome. Any given photograph is conceivably open to appropriation by a range of ‘texts’,
each new discourse situation generating its own set of messages” (p. 91).
Second, an image’s external context is also considered as a determining condition


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