Context: noun (Oxford English Dictionary)
The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.
Narrative: noun (Oxford English Dictionary)
A spoken or written word account of connected events; a story: a gripping narrative
The practice or art of telling stories
A representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values.
To try to understand the context and narrative of a photographic image is to begin the journey of significance and meaning within your work. The world is full of images and to make sense of these images and to create images with significance and meaning is the purpose of our journey.
Joachim Schmid is an artist who has collected thousands of images and arranged them into volumes of books containing common themes such as married couples, food, dogs. In these Schmid saw that people incessantly take the same images of the same objects and events. In an interview with OCA Schmid is asked “why do we all take the same pictures?”
“They work. We know that raising kids is not a bed of roses but if you look at the photos people take of their kids the world is just fine. No much crying, no diapers, no throwing up, no measles. That’s what people want. A happy marriage but no divorce. One of three marriages does end in a divorce in modern society but this is not reflected in popular photography. People will rather try a second marriage than a new approach to photography. I guess it’s more comfortable to base your life on the assumption that things will be all right. Living with the idea that things may well go wrong is closer to reality but not very popular.”
Judith Williamson decodes the visual and cultural codes contained in advertising images and demonstrates how companies manipulate the messages contained in the images in their quest to develop their brand, see http://oca-student.com/content/her
Whilst the sheer volume of images in the modern society is an interesting phenomenon understanding the purpose, meaning and relevance of these images is the important question.