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Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
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Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  14,838 ratings  ·  262 reviews
A graceful, contemplative volume, Camera Lucida was first published in 1979. Commenting on artists such as Avedon, Clifford, Mapplethorpe, and Nadar, Roland Barthes presents photography as being outside the codes of language or culture, acting on the body as much as on the mind, and rendering death and loss more acutely than any other medium. This groundbreaking approach e ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Hill and Wang (first published 1980)
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David
For Barthes, every photograph, rather than being a representation, is an expression of loss. The photograph, like all art which precedes it, attempts to eternalize its subject, to imbue it with life-forever, to blend the beautiful with the infinite; but it fails, it reminds us only of mortality (death is the mother of beauty). Try though it may, and despite its resemblance to life, the photo can never extend a life which is lost, or a life which is passing.
I had understood that henceforth I mu
...more
Ryan
Along with Susan Sontag's On Photography, Camera Lucida is one of the earliest and still most frequently cited analyses of the medium. This might seem strange considering how personal and 'literary' it is, but, whether for or against, academics continue to use this little book to make all sorts of exaggerated claims about visual culture.

As he acknowledges, Barthes' take on photography is determined by a phenomenological reduction. "...I decided to take myself as a mediator for all Photography. S
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Alejandro
Mar 07, 2007 Alejandro rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
while to many this book is another of barthes extended fragmentary ramblings on modern media, this is actually a touching novella about a solitary man's recognition of his own humanity upon the death of his mother. he so longs for transcendence, redemption, and eternal life and he prays it might come through the archives and the text. and yet he sadly worries it might not. and that his intellectual musings have somehow missed the point. if you ever wondered what in search of lost time was really ...more
David
I spent this afternoon looking through old black & white photos from the fifties taken by my father, of the extended family. My cousins, now dead or old, as they were when young, at birthday, Easter and Christmas parties, and my mother as an attractive young woman with her life before her. Of myself in one group photo, aged 1 year, somewhat annoyed at sliding off my cousin Janet’s 8-year-old knee as I try to read my book, believe it or not!

I’ve often thought this – that when you look into a
...more
M.
This is the first book of Barthe's that I've read as a whole that has fully resonated with me (though to be fair, it's only the second book-as-a-whole of his that I've read (the other being The Pleasure of the Text, which I feel a somewhat urgent necessity to re-read): I have mostly just jumped around with essays with him), but I really wish I could have read it [and understood it the way I understood it now:] earlier on in my undergraduate career. I feel like, had I penetrated what the book is ...more
Walid Elalfy

هو "انا " الذى لا يتطابق ابدا مع صورتى , لان الصوره هى التى تبدو ثقيله ,ساكنه, عنيده وهو "انا" الذى ابدو خفيفا منقسما ,مشتتا ,كعفريت العلبه ,لا ابقى ساكنا ,بل مهتاجا فى انائى
Trevor
This is a curious little book, and it really is a little book – only 119 pages. It is curious because it is two books. The first is a kind of philosophical discussion on the nature of photography. He says many very interesting things here – interesting in a philosophical kind of way. He starts with the basics and works his way up from there. For example, he says we can have three relationships to photographs: we can take them (he doesn’t take them so he has virtually nothing to say about this), ...more
Jon Anzalone
Patronizing and solipsistic as a discussion of photography. Barthes spends ample time assigning Latin names to elements of what is, essentially, irony, identifies their interaction as either clever or lame, and then abandons them. Other elements of photography are not considered, and instead he marvels at the possibility that the subject of an old photo may still be alive. He so much as admits he knows not much about photography, and goes on to talk at great length about himself instead.

I've be
...more
Joao
Encontrei este livro na seção de fotografia de uma livraria. Interessado, folheei as primeiras páginas e pareceu-me que se tratava de uma reflexão sobre o que separaria a fotografia das outras artes ou, mesmo, se a fotografia mereceria ser tratada como uma. Após a leitura, deslumbrado, devo confessar, concluo que a livraria se enganou, e este livro deveria estar na seção de filosofia.

Como muito bem diz o meu amigo Miguel Botelho "sempre que um homem olha para si próprio, o que nós vemos é o mun
...more
Farzaneh Doosti
Dec 11, 2007 Farzaneh Doosti rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: علاقه مندان نقد هنر
جالب بود
در این کتاب بارت صریحن موضع گیری های پساساخت گرایانه شو رو می کنه

اینجا بارت کسیه که کاملا به حواشی می پردازه و می خواد بگه عکس اون مفهوم سنتی ش نیست و در یک تصویر ممکنه ناخن بلند ابژه عکس خیلی تاثیرگذارتر باشه بر ببننده تا مثلن صورت او یا چیزی که نیت تشدید و توجه عکاس بوده - بحثی که بیشتر وارد حوزه ی پدیدارشناسی نقد خواننده مدار و پساساخت گرایی میشه و از بارت يه تصوير دوست داشتني مي‌سازه، تصويري كه به قول خودش بتونه تو روزهاي سوء شهرت به كارش بياد

اين اولين كتابي بود كه ازش نت برداري دقيق
...more
Nathanael Booth
This book is not a view of photography as an art-form, but Barthes’ attempt to understand exactly why certain photographs snagged him, tugged at his soul. He distinguishes between studium, that quality that makes the photograph of passing interest, and punctum, the telling detail (a pair of shoes, the texture of a dirt road) that causes the photograph to seem to say more than it does. He suggests that it is so because the punctum gives hints of a fragment of time captured. Indeed, for Barthes th ...more
Caitlin Park
Roland Barthes’ "Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography" is a collection of thoughts regarding the experience of viewing the photograph. The famous French literary theorist and philosopher wrote Camera Lucida in 1980 shortly after the death of his mother. He discovered the true value of photography after finding the ‘perfect’ photograph of her, a single frame capturing her entire essence that brought her back to life. Barthes’ Reflections unfold in forty eight investigative chapters, ultimate ...more
Earline
Oct 10, 2008 Earline rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: photographers
As a photographer I've always wanted to read Barthes and decided to just jump into Camera Lucida... apparently I've been in a French Philosophy/Theory mood lately. The style of Barthes' writing makes this text very accessible and I enjoyed experiencing his journey through understanding photography. In the end I was disappointed because his conclusions are pretty much the complete opposite of my views of photography, and I think that his detachment from the photographic process and his notion of ...more
Keith
Notes on whatever:

ch 5: A) Barthe's concern with being cast out of both the critical and the technical halves of photography, of wanting to start from his own concept of what photography "is." He can only feel comfortable trusting his "truest" knowledge, a small handful of photographs he feels are doing what he think photography can do, that he finds genuinely affecting. This sounds really pretentious in the rewriting, but feels honest on the page and actually, like the only logical way to learn
...more
Rachel
Ugh. School.
Leslie
I must confess that I was misled when I chose to read this book for one of my independent reading classes. From the title, I assumed that the book would be about photography, which it only partially concerned. Mainly, Roland Barthes used photography and certain photos to reflect rather philosophically on life, loss, and truth. There were some interesting reflections, and I might have enjoyed the book slightly more if I had opened it with the correct background knowledge. However, as the case was ...more
Gizem Kendik
Selamlar Roland,

Ne pahasına olursa olsun fotoğrafın kendi içinde ne olduğunu, görüntüler topluluğunda hangi temel özeliklerle ayrıldığını bulacam diye çıkmışsın. Sevdiği fotoğraflardan öznel bir kaynak sunmuş ve zaten bilmediğimiz bir şey söylemiyor eleştirileri gelmiş. Ya öznel bir veriyle yola çıkıp kitabın oratsında gidişatını sorgulayıp “sözünü geri alabilir, düşüncemi değiştirebilirim” diyip değiştiriyorsun. Ve kim ne derse desin bence bu kaypaklık baya tatlı.

Altıkırkbeş yayınlarına da iki
...more
Brad
Apr 24, 2011 Brad rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brad by: Cabinet magazine
Shelves: completed-2011
Barthes believes in his own emotions. He is so sure of his reactions to certain photographs that he uses this as the starting point for creating a framework for analyzing photography. It is not about form, style or codes, but the interplay between two forces: his cultural equipment and its ability to give a general understanding of what’s referenced in the photo; and the details that cause “wounds,” giving the photo power.

This highly subjective approach allows the “Spectator” to find as much va
...more
Theresa
I found this short book a bit frustrating at first, while I was still under the impression that I was reading a book about photography. Barthes' discussion takes off from the experience of the viewer, not the photographer or the photo itself, and for a while I felt that I was floundering around in rather self-indulgent and often pretentious text, saved every couple of pages by a sentence or two that conveyed something novel enough to keep me going. It gradually dawned on me that Barthes is not w ...more
Amanda
Camera Lucida is a philosophical reflection on the medium of photography. I've been toting this copy around since freshman year of college - one of my professors recommended I read it for reasons I forget now. I am not a professional photographer, but I've engaged in the act of taking pictures.
But this isn't really about taking pictures, it's about the pictures themselves, and how photography can capture in a frame the absolute truth (in most cases) and mortality of a moment. It's about how a p
...more
Philip
I'd have to read this 3 times and probably do a lecture course to get everything out of this book. As it stands an enjoyable (if challenging) look at the study of photography. My favourite thing about it is Barthes ability to put words to seemingly indescribable and try to explain what it is that makes a photograph special, what makes the figure in a photograph more than just that, when does a photograph reflect 'us'?
insomnius
Camera Lucida is a strange artefact today, written as it was in the brief period when photography was still generally seen as fundamentally linked to a depicted reality. Reading it, I wished I could have been reading it a few decades ago and been (possibly) struck by the incandescent truth of Barthes' observations, instead of repeatedly circling back to "yes… but–".

Barthes' writing is a delight and I have at least a dozen passages marked (non-permanently!) to copy out, so I'm not saying the book
...more
Rachel
Not so much what I learned from this book, but what I learned from people who read this book - Designating something as a "great book" makes lesser academics willing to use key terms in non-logical settings. I love this book and its theories, but you must read it several times, return to it several times, before you can truly understand Barthes point. I've studied a LOT of Barthes...but when I come across people who have only read this book as a group assignment - it's quite sad. There is so muc ...more
Andrew
It took me a little bit of time to get into this. Partially because I’ve gotten somewhat out of the habit of reading French theory, and partially because I really wasn’t sure to expect. As a comprehensive approach to the phenomenology of the photograph, it’s probably a failure. But as a lyrical essay, it’s quite wonderful. Barthes takes his own subjective, flawed memories and perspectives and is able to translate that inner thought into broader experiences. I sometimes think that Barthes was the ...more
Steven
A classic work on photography that always feels fresh and new.
أحمد زبيدة
قرأت هذا الكتاب مرتين .. مرة باللغة العربية وهذه المرة بالفرنسية، الكاتب ليس مصور فوتوغرافي ولكنه من محبيه، وهو واضع أسس النقد السيميولوجي، تناول الصورة الفوتوغرافية من الجانب الحسي كمتأمل لها وباحث في علاماتها ودلالاتها ومدلولاتها، هذا الكتاب أنار أمامي الطريق نحو الفوتوغرافيا المفاهيمية وفهمت من خلاله لا العلاقة بين المصور والصورة دائمة الذكر وإنما العلاقة بين الصورة ومشاهد الصورة كعلاقة خاصة غير متكررة بين المشاهد والآخر حيث يسبحون في بحر التأويل اللامتناهي والذي تقودهم فيه تجاربهم الشخصية وا ...more
Cărăşălu
Barthes's writing is lovely. I get the feeling of "live thinking". He jumps between ideas, feelings and observations with an enviable intellectual acrobacy. The downside is that it's rather hard to follow sometimes. I don't think I learned much about photography from this essay, but it was a rewarding reading nonetheless. I'll probably re-read later and try to get more from it than now.
Mana H

بارت در کتاب "اتاق روشن" از عکسهایی حرف می زند که به هیجانش آورده اند یا زخمش زده اند -که او این خاصیت زخم زننده را پنهان در چیزی می داند که پونکتومش می خواند- و در روند پدیدارشناسی عکسهای مهم زندگی اش، می رسد به عکس باغ زمستانی که کودکی مادرش را در خود دارد –بارت کتاب را یکی دو سالی پس از مرگ مادر نوشت- بارت در کتاب، تصویر تمام عکسهایی را که درباره شان حرفی می زند، یا ذکری می رود ازشان، منتشر کرده است، با تاریخ و جزئیات. –مضحک اینکه در چاپ جدیدی از ترجمه فارسی که من دارم، کیفیت عکسها اینقدر بد
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hayatem
كتاب جميل يقدم من خلاله رولان بارت الفتوغرافيا برؤية فلسفية فمنولوجية خاصة. بمعنى أدق صورة ذاتية في التصور والفكر .

مساعي بارت في الفتوغرافيا كانت في سبيل الخروج والوصول الى استنتاجات غير التي تكون متبوعة او مشروحة بمنظور اجتماعي، وذلك بغرض مقاومة اي نظام مختزل!
ومن منطلق خبرة الذات المشاهدة، وخبرة الموضوع المشاهد، علاقة الدال الفوتوغرافي ،
سيمياء الصورة الفوتوغرافية، والنظر وراء الصورة الكلية ومحاولة القبض على ذلك الشيء الخفي والغير ظاهر.

( البوكنتوم) وهو مصطلح اخترعه بارت، ويطلقه على التفصيلة
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Ryan
"It is the the misfortune (but also perhaps the voluptuous pleasure) of language not to be able to authenticate itself," says Barthes. For that we may need images and photographs to certify the text. Barthes's reflections on photography offer some subversive theories on the persistence of images in the imagination. In the end, however, the writer's memoirs provide a surprisingly affecting portrait of a man coming to terms with his personal loss.
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Visual arts: Roland Barthes - Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography 1 4 Jul 03, 2014 09:05AM  
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Roland Barthes was a French literary critic, literary and social theorist, philosopher, and semiotician. Barthes' work extended over many fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, existentialism, Marxism and post-structuralism.
More about Roland Barthes...
Mythologies A Lover's Discourse: Fragments The Pleasure of the Text S/Z Image, Music, Text

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“Ultimately — or at the limit — in order to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes. 'The necessary condition for an image is sight,'Janouch told Kafka; and Kafka smiled and replied: 'We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.” 84 likes
“What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially.” 58 likes
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