Shot at National Gallery of Denmark. A wonderful place to combine art and people. The sculpture and the painting are both done by Danish artist Kurt Trampedach. Clearly “the pose” of this image is what gives meaning. And then we are, once again, being reminded of the powers of connotations.
It was The Day of Obama. October 2, 2009. Copenhagen, Denmark.
I did not get closer than his big black beasty car, but that is ok since I got a good shoot of both Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, the Danish Queen and the Prince Consort Henry, the day before. I was on the way back to my car parked not far from the main entrance of Hotel D’Angleterre in the midst of Copenhagen, when this young voice spoke to me from quite close. I had not seen her before she spoke:
Are you a professional photographer? You look like a professional photographer with that camera. Have you anything that you need to do tomorrow?
I looked at her: I could say “yes” and I could say ”no” since I am not a professional photographer all of the time. Only when I get paid for it. So I went for the middle. Well, not exactly, but I can shoot some pretty good pictures from time to time. Why?
I am getting married tomorrow and I need a wedding photographer. Could that be you? I simply have forgotten all about having a photographer. I’ve been so busy. Then I saw you. If you don’t come we will have no photographer for our wedding.
The voice belonged to a beautiful black woman. Mid twenties, dark skin, black hair and a smile that did not seem to want to leave her face.
I looked at her. A bit puzzled. In Denmark it is not that common that strangers approach each other on the street, so how can I be sure that you aren’t just pulling my leg. Besides, I don’t shoot weddings. I never have, so I am afraid that you have to find another photographer.
But you are a professional. You look very professional to me. If you don’t come to my wedding we will have no photographer. She kept insisting. Have you anything else to do tomorrow that could prevent you from shooting my wedding?
I said that I didn’t. Because I didn’t.
It is at Gentofte Rådhus at 10.00 tomorrow morning and there will be a reception at Lighthouse Hotel (name changed) at 12.30. Have you got time to go there as well after the wedding ceremony? Maybe you could stay with us for a couple of hours. Please come and shoot my wedding. It is too late now to get another photographer. So you need to come. Can you promise that you will come?
I’ll think about it. I’ll give you a call.
Can I ask you what you charge?
Well, what I charge? I gave her a price by the hour.
You can call my husband if you don’t believe me. His name is Henrik.
Is he Danish then? Are you marrying a Dane?
Yes, he is. You can have his number and call him now.
No need for that.
I could give you an advance to make sure that you come tomorrow. Can I be sure that you will be there?
No, you can’t. Most likely I will not be there.
What could I say: What is your name then, and I need your phone number as well. I need to do some checking before I will say yes to this. Could you write if down for me? Have you got a piece of paper?
On a piece of paper she wrote Thandie, her last name and her phone number. And when the wedding was and where is was.
And what is your name? she asked. And do you have a phone number as well? Oh no, I thought. Let me check your story first, and I will call you. You don’t get my number. I will call you.
She went off in a taxi shortly after. I got a chance to look at her from I distance. She was a good looking girl and she wore good cloths and light blue rubber boots. I could see that.
And I was turning into a wedding pro. Maybe.
Later that night I told the story to Kirsten. She was greatly amused and she said of course I must go. It is very exciting to meet someone this way she said, but I insisted that I would not go. Of course she is not only pulling your leg. Why would she?
I am not a wedding photographer. I don’t want to have this responsibility, and I will not go. Have you any idea how difficult this is?
Of course I will not go even if Gentofte Rådhus is just up the street, and I know Lighthouse Hotel pretty well. However, can’t be that bad, can it? The places are certainly right. But I won’t go. These things just don’t happen. Not this way. And I will make a mess of everything. You need trained people to shoot weddings. Lamps, tripod and all.
I picked up the phone late that night. Hi Thandie it’s your photographer. I have decided to come to your wedding tomorrow, but you have to call me back and confirm that there is a wedding. I need you to call me tonight so I can prepare this a bit. I expect you to call me if you want me to come. Thanks.
Thandie did not return my call that evening. That was late The Day of Obama. October 2, this year. And besides I don’t do weddings.
(To be continued).
The story is great and coming here soon.
I am going to continue a bit with Roland Barthes.
Not because his name is Roland Barthes, and since he already has made a name for himself within the broader field of communication. But for two other reasons. The first one being that the posts tagged “Barthes” seems to work pretty good on this blog, and secondly because he is central for the barebones themes in that he works with both verbal and visual communication.
A section in his famous article The Photographic Message is about Text and Image. Barebones want to make the points Barthes addresses, in that section, operational, and show how they can be used both proactively when constructing a message e.g trying to communicate a thought, and reactively when deconstucting a message for e.g. analysis.
Barthes addresses three points in the combination of text and image. There are probably many more, but we will start with blog posts on these three:
1) Text as parasite to an image (post coming up)
2) Text as innocent to an image (post coming up)
3) Text as contradiction to an image (post coming up)
Even if the wording here is esoteric the content of what Barthes is saying is not that hard to grasp.
I will treat these three points/procedures in separate posts. Now you are warned. The separate posts on text and image will be linked to this introductory post.
And remember: reading blogs are not a substitute for reading books. And reading books are not a substitute for reading life. If you want to know more about Barthes, go get the book. If you want to know more about life, buy a camera.
You could start with the link below.
Library Thing. (Roland Barthes: Image, Music, Text, Fontana Press 1977, UK. Essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath).
For more posts on Roland Barthes go here.
I have never heard of Susan Boyle. Have you? She is a contester in Britain’s Got Talent. A friend sent me a link yesterday, and I am speechless.
I can’t embed the video from YouTube so you have to activate the link below.
She is 47, and that is just one side of her. See the other side.
Why do I post this link here? Well, hermeneutics is all about accepting pre-conceptions, pre-judgement as an element of understanding. Let Susan Boyle sing for you, and you will know what I mean. Look at, and listen to the judges in particular. Then the audience. Someone certainly got their pre-conception modified here. And so did I. This is the hermeneutic circle on parade.
There is a little side effect here as well. Look at the video a couple of times, and please notice that the looks of Susan Boyle gets a little better after each view. Connotations on the moved. Barebones calls this phenomenon the Susan Boyle Syndrome. From now on.
The Susan Boyle Syndrome goes like this: The more you get to enjoy a thing, the more positive connotations will be. Connotations change. This sounds very simple, and rather obvious in this case. My point is simply this; when you work with communication (on every level and within every area), it is a good idea to take; a) a closer look on what is going on, b) extract and refine basics principles and c) put these principles to use in future communication.
As a digression, I should point out that the ability to learn from everyday experience like The Susan Boyle event, is of paramount importance when working with, and within, creativity models. It is simply, stated once again, a tactic for new combinations of elements. In other words Creatics.
Regarding Susan Boyle, my guess is that we have only seen the beginning yet. And barebones will stay tuned.
And what a great sentence that is: I am 47, and that’s just one side of me. Lots of new combinations there. Love it.
This portrait was never intended for this site, but I’ll bring it anyway.
Remember Roland Barthes and his connotation procedures in photopraphy? One of his procedures is trick effects, and that procedure is probably that which comes closest to my point here. The mere quality of the equipment is yet another parameter for handling connotations.
This shot has been made with a Carl Zeiss lens (Zeiss Planar 1,4/85 mm ZE), and, in my opinion, is has connotation qualities that goes far beyond what I have seen with other lenses. What these lenses are famous for, are the ability to render 3D like effects. I am amazed, particularly since this is the first portrait, ever, I have shot with this lens. This person comes to life way beyond my expectations. Because of the Zeiss glass in the lens.
What has this to do with connotations? Well, this equipment based qualities certainly contain connotations. Thinks like “strong personality”, “stern”, “in control of things”, “highly skilled”, “professional”, et cetera. You can add to the list yourself.
Barthes himself was not a photographer. He did not think he had the talent for it. He had to contribute to the art of photography by writing about it. That is probably why he never knew about Carl Zeiss and his glass.
And talking about quality: this picture is best viewed on a Mac. The bigger the better. And I am not joking.
And no, this is not a picture of Carl Zeiss. Have a good day .
If you want to read more barebones’ posts related to Roland Barthes, you should hit “Roland Barthes” in the tag cloud.
I am a couple of posts behind schedule. I suggest you enjoy this photograph until next time.
By the way, have you ever wondered why some objects are seemingly better for visual communication, than others?
And another question that you may want to ask yourself; is there any causal relationship between what is beautiful, and what works in communication? I don’t have the answer, but maybe you have? Please give me a clue.
Have a good weekend.
The simple truth, however, behind this post is, in fact, that I am just trying to show off my new lens Hope you don’t mind. Barebones Communication is a very tolerant blog, it seems. The name of the lens, that delivered this picture, is Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/50 mm ZE. So now you know. And besides, I am trying to pull some photographers to the blog.
Roland Barthes had another flamboyant idea. Analysing stills from another great master, the Russian Serge Eisenstein, he lacked a word for the meaning that was bluntly there. So he invented a label for that kind of meaning. He called it obtuse: the blunt meaning. You can read all about it in his essay “The Third Meaning”, or you can read a bit about how others interpret it, by following this link. The article on obtuse meaning was originally written in the French magazine Cahiers du cinéma in 1970.
As you clearly can see, the photograph above are embedded with obtuse meanings. Well, bluntly …. . You need to take a good look at the photograph, because as Barthes says, the obtuse meaning cannot be described. Good luck with it.
Picture shot at Lousiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark 2008.
I didn’t know I had this picture. Well, I knew that I might have a picture of a poster. I was testing some photographic gear, and this poster was positioned right outside the store. I wanted to check the sharpness on a fixed Canon 400 mm lens. At that time I had no idea that there was a little sticker attached to the poster. A sticker, that completely changes the message of the original poster. Brings in an unexpected layer of connotations.
It’s all about hermeneutics, and I will return to this post. Soon.
Now it is late. Too late. It ‘s already the day after.