Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Context and the meaning of a photograph

Dec 10, 2018 - Isolde Woudstra


Today I’d like to share with you a peculiar little book I’ve picked up somewhere around the time I started studying photography. “Het extragegeven” by Lambertus Lambregts was published by de Harmonie in 1973 and the preface, written by Lambregts, reads:

When viewing a photo without a caption, the viewer will try to give the photo the proper meaning with the data that the photo itself has to offer. We see two men. The trees, the car and paved road tell us that the two men are outside. Their posture tells us they are walking. The gun holster, the leather jacket, the pants and the book from the man on the left make us suspect that he is a police officer. The book in his hand and the fact that both men are close together, let us readily assume that there would be some relationship between the men, probably that of police officer / citizen in violation. When we now receive extra information in the form of a caption in addition to the photo, it makes it easier to give meaning to the photo. The extra data forces us to give the photo a certain meaning. By changing the ‘extra data’ the meaning of the photo changes, and in a way also the photo itself because we will now view it differently.”