Barthes Surprises!

I’ve slowly been getting through Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes. It’s definitely not an easy read and mostly I have to read the same chapter a good few times before I start to grasp Barthes meaning/s.

I thought I’d digest the following as I thought it would be cool to do a series of photos based on these observations at some point.

In chapter 14 of Camera Lucida Barthes discusses ‘Shock’ as a photographic tool. Barthes says in relation to using ‘shock’ [as the primary element in a photograph] “The essential gesture of the [camera] operator is to surprise something or someone.” The following are what he believes to be the 5 types of ‘surprises’ which a photographer may use.

1. Rare — Photographing something unusual or rare, enough to instill some kind of wonder in the viewer.

Lewis H. Hine - Idiot Children in an Institution.

2. Fleeting [my title] — a moment/expression/gesture that is to fast for the naked human eye to register, a frame that only a camera shutter could reveal.

Francis Apesteguy

3. Prowess — A advanced photographic technique which captures an image, possibly scientific in nature.

Harold E Edgerton - Antique Gun Firing

4. Extended Technique [my title] — using an extended technique to add to/manipulate the image either in camera or in post production.

Germaine Krull

5. Luck — A moment that the photographer comes across by chance. Being in the right place at the right time. For example a politician tripping up some stairs.

Stuart Franklin - Magnum