Research point — John A. Walker’s essay ‘Context as a Determinant of Photographic Meaning’

These are points which stuck out from Walker’s essay I’d like to take time to write about.


The frame of the photograph encloses a space, a world, which we can enter (in our imaginations)

I’ve never fully considered what may lay on the other 4 sides of a photograph, always taking that frame as the total. It’s incredibly interesting to think about what has been cropped out, and what the image would be if an extra inch or two would to be added, would it shift the initial thought, or could it change it completely.


In the distant past, paintings and sculptures were generally produced for specific locations and were designed as integral parts of architectural structures.

Images, man made, would apart of the environment, they were not transient nor replicated elsewhere.  If you wanted to see the image, you could do only within the confines of that exact location, or place. As per to John Berger’s “Way’s of Seeing” seeing a famous painting in a museum oppose to seeing a postcard image at home.


In other words, there is a need to examine the life of an image as well as its birth, to consider its circulation, its currency, as it moves through time and space from context to context,

The idea that photographs have parallels with currency is a really interesting one. The fleeting images from mobile phones hold little to no value, and are deleted at will, until the desired vanity is achieved.  On the other hand limited edition prints by famous photographers, would reach into the thousands.  Considering where they are born, is another interesting concept– who took the picture, on what kind of camera, and how/ where was is developed and circulated.

A baby photograph from my birth is worth so much to me, as they cannot be replicated (other than a digital scan) which makes it a sentimental object, rather than just an image.

It is, however, problematic to judge the impact of a single image when we are exposed to a veritable flood tide of visual imagery daily, in addition to all the other kinds of experience which form us ideologically. To many people it seems that imagery is having no effect at all

I think this comment in a sad but true observation of the millennials, although I do not use it, but something like snap chat, where there are countless images shared and deleted, almost constantly.  Imagery is becoming numb sensation…

until we begin looking up from our devises, real life, with hope, will become more exciting.


It has often been pointed out that the Front are photogenic, as were the German Nazis before them. Their facial expressions, body language and clothing connote a set of values – toughness, masculine virility, aggression, latent power – which are perceived by the Left as negative values but which may appear positive to Front members. It may, therefore, be politically more valuable for the Left photographer to stress the weak and pathetic aspects of the racists rather than to celebrate their toughness.

It’s interesting how a photographer holds the power, to which the viewer is at the mercy of.  You can depict anyone, anywhere, and any situation in a contrived way through manipulation, angles, lighting etc..  misinterpretation is common and perhaps, sometime the objective. Propaganda, fashion, dieting, marketing– these all use optical illusions to better sell an idea/product



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