Barthes’ Dialectics

Margaret Strickland's Blog

In Barthes’ essay “The photographic message,” he proposes that images comprise of two messages: that of the denoted message, or more simply put, what is in the photograph (the image of the photographed reality) and secondly the connoted meaning, which is society’s reaction to or interpretation of the photograph. He goes on to say that the connoted message is different for each person that experiences the photograph, depending on each individual’s history and knowledge. Because every image is so heavily weighed with the feeling of the connoted message, it is impossible for any image not to have a connotation. Barthes goes on to describe six aspects of a photograph that prevent a photograph from being read as an objective documentation of reality. These six aspects are trick effects (using the credibility of photography to get viewers to buy into altered images), pose (our historical knowledge of pose in art and…

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