Results 1 – 27 of 27 LA CAMARA LUCIDA by BARTHES, ROLAND and a great selection of related books, art and collectibles available now at La cámara lúcida es el último libro de Roland Barthes, de enfoque muy personal. Publicado por primera vez en francés en bajo el título de “La Chambre. Barthes Roland – La Camara Lucida PDF. Jeneidy Torres Fernández. Uploaded by. J. Torres Fernández. (Virgnia.

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Roland Barthes, who died inwas an eminent French historian, writer and philosopher, one of the chief formulators of semiology, the study of forms by interpreting the societal role of signs and symbols. Barthes had written occasional pieces on photography before be wrote Camera Lucida.

The form of the book is 48 one-to-three page numbered essays which lead almost architecturally from one to the other. Titled in the table of contents, the essay sections carry no titles in the work itself, probably to induce fluidity and a narrative sense.

Barthes was prompted to write this book when he was in mourning for his mother, to whom he was devoted and with whom he lived. A major section of the book is about his looking among family photographs for the best, most telling picture of his mother. He was searching for the true HER among all the snapshots of her long life that were available to him.

Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

Most people have had this experience in their private lives. We have as well gone through this process en masse as a culture following the death of public figures who have touched us: Kennedy, John Barfhes, Marilyn Barthee. Recently, on the one hundredth anniversary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s birthday, the media printed pictures that through the filter of 35 years seemed to hold the charisma of the man.

Similarly, we look for the diabolical streak in pictures of persons who turn out to be mass murderers: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy. As photographers, many of us have in our archives portraits of people who are now dead, some of whom may mean a great deal to us.

I can understand Barthes’ ordeal and the pull of his mother’s images. Last year I printed a commemorative series of portraits of a poet friend, Charles Olson, who died 11 years ago. In each of my images he was large and vigorous; in one or two I could literally hear his voice. Going through my contact prints, I was in a trance, a real time warp. More recently, in this past month, actually while reading Barthes, I printed 24 images of my aunt Riv, who is dying at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

They were all taken at parties celebrating her 60th and 65th birthdays. In the images, she is happy and vigorous, innocent of her future. Poring over images of the dead is an active part of grief, of mourning, of dealing with the actuality of death. This ritual didn’t exist for anybody but the upper classes, obviously, before photography was invented; must be a milestone in the history of mourning rites and thanatology.

It seems inevitable to me that in going over old pictures of his mother, Barthes would be overwhelmed with the connections between the Images, Time and Death. It is a totally human conclusion. The reality of the photos is palpable, but the reality of Death is the ultimate Concrete. It is inevitable that Barthes would be struck by what Time and the Instant mean in an image.


How the image fights Change the ultimate Change being Death. It is natural, considering the genesis of his ideas, that Barthes would decide that the genius of photography was the specificity of the subject of the image, that the subject “really was there”. And that he would conclude that Death was the logical implication of every image.

Barthes went through all the pictures of his mother – from the most recent ones to ones of her childhood.

The one he settled on and doesn’t reproduce assuring us it would be uninteresting is from her childhood. He describes it thus:. What is so special about the Winter Garden Photograph, as Barthes calls this essential portrait? What can be extrapolated from his search about the nature of portraits which work?

Or about how they work? Barthes says that what makes the Winter Garden Photograph so great is that his mother let herself be photographed. She lent herself to the photographer. She placed herself in front of the lens with discretion. He sees this photograph as a new moment. It has the splendor of her truth, although it doesn’t look “like” her being of a child Barthes never knew.

Barthes sees the Winter Garden Photograph of his mother as perpetuating Love. He is comforted by its actuality – the fact it literally emanated from his mother. She did not struggle with her image. She was neither showing nor hiding herself. There is an assertion of gentleness, he writes. Barthes’ mother was, in fact, the perfect portrait subject. The “thereness” in a person’s character transcends Death.

We recognize the person’s character immediately. An image that comes to mind is a portrait of John Lennon that Annie Leibowitz took on the last afternoon of his life. It is a straight-on head-and-shoulders image; Lennon is wearing a dark sweater.

Barthes Roland – La Camara Lucida PDF | Jeneidy Torres Fernández –

Rolling Stone published the image on the anniversary of Lennon’s death. Lennon was a natural subject for the camera. He was always there.

Some people just look like there is nobody home and it is very hard to get a good portrait of them. What one gets is a portrait of vacancy. Many people have no idea what makes them interesting to other people. It’s your mink coat. It’s your kind face. Barthes sees Death implicit in each photograph. He is struck by how the photograph moves you back through time. How you always have the past with you. Death is the final moment of a life and the last possible photograph.

At the same time, Barthes sees the photograph as a kind of resurrection. It continues after the person is gone. It has a life of its own, in scrapbooks, on walls, in cardboard boxes, as long as the paper exists. Barthes likes the fact that what he bartjes has existed in front of the lens.

The past is as certain as the present. He can assure himself of his mother and know that his experience with her was real. The Winter Garden image becomes a magic relic, as though it is part of his mother. Many photographers, beginning with Stieglitz, think that the most telling portrait is an extended series which is cumulative in its effect. Barthes, in Camera Lucida, never raises the possibility that several images could yield the “true” portrait.


Partly, it may be because Barthes was searching in grief and love for one image in which to find his mother’s spirit. When I go over my contact prints of people I have photographed off and on for 15 years, some portraits nail my friends more varthes others do.

But the cumulative effect is at least as powerful as is the effect of any one image. The change over Time is eerie and it seems to me, at those times particularly, that photography is about change. I am struck by the fragility of the status quo; we don’t know what is waiting for us around the corner.

I have many pictures of happy couples now divorced that I would publish as a series dedicated to life’s uncertainty if it weren’t for the lawsuits it would provoke.

Wendy MacNeil’s longitudinal composite portraits are a good example of the power of cumulative imagery. It’s interesting, too, that Barthes never talks about the effects of different kinds of cameras on the images produced. Surely, all the pictures of Barthes’ mother that he reviewed kucida settling on the Winter Garden Photograph weren’t in the same format.

I find format a decisive factor in the kind of portrait I take and get. The 35mm camera is quick, casual, familiar. It is a mask in front of my face, but I am very accessible.

The technology is easy and it adapts to the situation. The square is a much harder form to compose within. I hardly ever take a full figure with it since I don’t know what to do with the leftover space usually on barhhes sides.

It is great for people on chairs, or half the figure, or just the face. You can tell Diane Arbus and Lisette Model are no ordinary photographers by how they use the square. The Polaroid 20 x 24 on the other hand, is stimulating because of the heroic scale and the color. Barthes never mentions scale as affecting an image’s impact. Perhaps all the images of his mother in the cartons were small, ordered barthees the family album. The 20 x 24 isn’t a mask for the photographer.

It is a bonafide accomplice. The photography session becomes theater. And since the subject sees and can react to each shot, the session is collaborative and builds upon itself. The 20 x lucica is a very stimulating format for me.

It demands a certain control, a sense of composition, and a sense of the subject’s abrthes and body. In the studio, without a lot of props, I have to induce the “thereness” in my subjects.