Photo Hermeneutics: Strategies and Approaches

Document Type : Research Article


1 Faculty Member of Sistan and Baluchistan University, Zahedan, Iran.

2 Faculty Member of Sistan and Baluchistan University, Zahedan, Iran. Abstract


Problem statement: To observe social conditions and situations in everyday life, photography has been actively and efficiently substituted by inactive visualization, as it has made it possible to consciously observe the daily events and analyze them through photographs. The interpretation and analysis of photographs related to human daily life requires methods that can lead to a better understanding of people’s beliefs and daily interactions. Such methods should be informed by the context and socio-historical structure of population issues.Hermeneutics is the knowledge of interpretation and hereupon, a hermeneutic analysis of photography facilitates studying target photographs with social themes and interpreting theirimplicit meanings based on the characteristics of linguistics, population interventions, intents and intentions, and also those social rules governing the creation of the photographs.The hermeneutics of photography means the interpretation and explanation of photographs within their socio-cultural context by an interpreter who has gained prior knowledge of the context by applying the effective factors of hermeneutic interpretation.
Research objective: Basically, in hermeneutics, the way of understanding is under question, and so in addressing the photographic categories, hermeneutics deals with “the way of analytically understanding photo”. Therefore, the purpose of the hermeneutic analysis is to 1) identify the factors influencing the process of perceiving photography, 2) to explain the background conditions for this comprehension, 3) to determine the characteristics of the analytical context for the correct interpretation of photographs,4)to define the interpreter of the hermeneutics of photography, and finally to determine who/what has a more reliable position in the photography?
Research method: In this study, the hermeneutic analysis of photography is based on the philosophical hermeneutical views of ‘Hans-Georg Gadamer’,andis constituted based on acareful examination of its hermeneutic elements, in creating the correct interpretation of the photo. In other words, the position of each of the elements of Gadamerian hermeneutic in analyzing the context (the concept of tradition, prejudgment, effective historical awareness, conversational logic, semantic horizon, author intent, and hermeneutics critique) is considered in the interpretation process of photography, and its position is raised based on a visual context.
Conclusion:The hermeneutic analysis of photography can include all types of analysis, interpretation, and criticism of target photographs if the influential hermeneutic tools and elements in the analysis are applied accurately. Addressing the interpretive position of the hermeneutic elements will lead the hermeneutics of photography towards a more comprehensive and accurate analysis.


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