New media and photography theory – week 4 2013
This weeks lecture aimed to develop our thinking into understanding the use of genre by organisations. Genre is defined by Paul Long as “recognisable groupings, subsets or types of media forms comprising the the paradigmatic elements (stories, rhetoric, signification) that are drawn upon in the creation of individual syntagmatic texts” (Long and Wall 2012:489) The reasons we discussed as to why producers are conforming to genres were for profit maximisation, its economic incentive and to inform or entertain its audience.
Genre theory explored the various codes and conventions used by producers of the media to fall into the various categories and the reasons why they do so. In photography, there is genre examples such as fashion, portrait, vintage, black and white, landscape, documentary and beauty (to name a few). Via creating their work to the codes and conventions of these genres, the artefacts made by producers can be recognised, known and looked for by consumers.
Long and Wall believe that the three key concepts when analysing genre are codes, conventions and context. They all play a part in the overall outcome of a specific genre, or could contribute to the creation of a new genre.
My found reading for this week provided me with a case study for the image of the ‘Migrant Mother’. This particularly interested me because I knew of the picture and its iconic history but never knew why it was famous or of its origins and purpose.
The photograph was taken by Dorothea Lange whilst working on a project for the government-run company called The Farm Security Administration (FSA) (Wells, L 2004: 39). Through the codes and conventions and clear context, we can see that the genre of the image is that of documentary photography. This has been defined by Profoto as “taking of photographs to provide a record of social and political situations with the aim of conveying information.” (Photography glossary n.d.)
The case study links to the points made by Long to analyse how genre and narrative combine to make meaning. (Long and Wall 2012: 95) “while photographs capture a movement in ‘media res’ they invite interpretations in terms of the narrative they present- however posed the situation”(Long and Wall :94) The case study considers the situation in which the image was taken of the ‘Migrant Mother’ and the photographers approach.
To research further into genres, production and audiences I would conduct a rhetorical analysis of some images that fit into the genre of fashion photography. Discussing the different codes and conventions that are used and how they define the image, hoping to find trends in both in my report.
Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context (2nd Edition), London:Pearson.
Price, D. and Wells, L.. (2004). Thinking about photography: debates, historically and now.. In: Wells, L Photography: A critical introduction. 3rd ed. New York : Routledge. p37-48.
Photography Glossary n.d. Available: Last accessed 16th March 2013.