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NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE | Fall 2012
Department of Art & Art History | Arts, Literature and Theater Collegium
Rebecca Morrison | 912.401.3081 | rmorrison@nec.edu | naerct.org
OFFICE HOURS: Tower 21 | T/W/R | By Appointment Only _____________________________________________________________________________

RELEVANT TERMS: THE BIG 4

  • SYNTAX
  • The choices a photographer makes when constructing an image (or body of work) that are designed to create a certain aesthetic or have a particular effect on a viewer. These might include: lighting, DoF, PoV, the choice made re: black and white or color, the size of the printed image, the process (digital capture or film/alternative process, etc.).

  • CONTEXT
  • The circumstances surrounding a particular image (or body of work) that aid in determining its meaning or cultural relevance. Context might include the historical framework of the photograph (i.e., what was happening socially/culturally at the time when the photograph was made) as well as how/where/when it was initially seen (i.e., was it published in a newspaper? Seen by the masses? Released to a limited or elite group via small gallery show?). Consider our class discussion about figuring out the meaning of a word in context. If you did not previously know the word's meaning, you might be able to determine it from the words surrounding it in its sentence or paragraph. The same applies to determining the meaning of a photograph.

  • CONTENT
  • The make-up of an image. What is it? What are you literally looking at?

  • INTENT
  • The aim of the photographer/artist. What was (s)he trying to do? To document an event? To make a political statement? To persuade viewers to espouse a certain idea (propaganda)? To externalize personal emotion or dream? To show beauty? Ugliness? To shock? We cannot always determine the photographer's intention merely by looking at an image. Occaisionally, though, we might have a strong sense of what (s)he was trying to say immediately. Other times, we may need to read about the artist and/or the image in order to glean the photographer's intent.