Studium and Punctum

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George Powell Photography

This week I’ve been reading Roland Barthe’s book, Camera Lucida and would like to touch upon some of his ideas on what makes a photograph stand out. Barthes cites two main factors in a photographic image, studium and punctum.

Barthes calls Studium ‘a kind of education (civility, politeness) that allows discovery of the operator’. Basically studium is the element that creates interest in a photographic image. It shows the intention of the photographer but we experience this intention in reverse as spectators; the photographer thinks of the idea (or intention) then present it photographically, the spectator then has to act in the opposite way, they see the photograph then have to interpretate it to see the ideas and intentions behind it.

Culture is an important connotation within studium, as Barthes puts it ‘it is culturally that I participate in the figures, the faces, the gestures, the settings, the actions,’ Barthes…

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