David Bates, Photography; key concepts

Here I have written a brief summary of the reading Photography; Key concepts by David Bates. All the views and opinion are my understanding of the argument which Bates created.

David Bates outlines the key concepts of photography. Bates explains how certain photographic codes are used to convey meaning. Foe example he explains that focus may be used as a way of indicating importance. Whilst there are many codes within photography Bates argues the most important of these codes is rhetoric. Rhetoric “defines the organization of codes into an argument”. Bates argues that photography uses different combinations of codes in order to create rhetorical arguments.

These arguments are generally seen through either the lens of realism or of semiotics. Realism is the idea that the photograph is representative of the original object. Semiotics emphasizes the differences between the original object and the photograph of the object. Bates concludes that both these lens have different values, and may bring us closer to understanding the value of photography.

Rhetoric in images can be seen as an overlapping of contrasts or antithesis. These antithesis are used to construct meanings, create dialogue and ultimately create arguments within photographs. How far we are willing to believe the supposed reality of the images is based on our preexisting believes on what is true or what is ‘real’. Whilst the basic structure of the photograph (its signifying unit) does not change, the connotations and cultural implications of those units might shift. Cultural connotations are not fixed marks and are ever shifting they allow images to shift meaning over time.

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