My image is taken from a book called ? Other Americas? which comprises of photographs of Latin America, taken by Sebastiao Salgado. The image was taken at a rubbish dump in Brazil in 1983 and it depicts workers old and young, male and female rummaging through what others see fit to throw away. The signifier is the camera and the signified is the rubbish dump. According to Barrett (1996), an effective method of content analysis is to apply the equation ? subject matter + form= content.?
This form of analysis, also known as denotative analysis means describing the subject matter such as what can be seen in the image, and analysing the form, which can be described under headings such as image density, contrast and focus. When undertaking an analysis of the subject matter it is useful to divide the image into sections such as the content of the foreground, background and centre. Denotative In the left foreground a young boy can be seen hauling a rubbish sack along the ground. The ground is covered in rubbish and he appears to be scanning the ground for anything of worth.
The centre foreground contains more rubbish and a black dog sniffing around. The right foreground shows a young man in a black and white stripe shirt with a cylindrical bag on his back. Left of centre shows two more seemingly despondent workers trudging through the rubbish while a bird circles overhead. In the centre of the image a similarly tired looking female can be seen with a bag on her back. To her right, a number of birds can be seen looking for scraps. In the left background, hills give the picture a sense of perspective.
In the centre there are a couple of mounds of rubbish and what looks like two children playing. There is also a van with a man leaning on the left door, looking relaxed. In the right background there is a shack, possibly where things can be stored and various mounds of rubbish. Four men can also be seen standing around, looking fairly relaxed. It is noticeable that those in the foreground have their backs to their camera and their body language such as their slumped shoulders and the way they have their head down suggests they are tired from working.
The focus of the camera is general although it could be said that the actors in the foreground are prominent. There is a black/white contrast in this image, created subtly by a line running horizontally from left centre to right centre. This contrast increases the possible connotations of this image. The image can be described as sparse in its use of people and objects, but full of intriguing connotations. Connotative On a connotative level, there is a powerful contrast between the people in the foreground and those in the background.
Those in the background are visibly more relaxed while those in the foreground are working hard and have their backs to the camera. Another interpretation of this image is that the animals are competing with the workers for food. This would add to the difficulty and increase their frustration at working in such a harsh environment. The van in the centre background is quite ironic as, in the 1960s, that type of van would have symbolised freedom, yet the workers are real victims of circumstance, trapped and unable to escape their jobs.
The image shatters the stereotypical image of Brazil; flamenco dancers, carnivals and beautiful football and highlights the hidden realities of Brazilian peasants. Conclusion We each picked one image and, based on our research of various books, we analysed the images separately and then brought all of our research together to compare our images under our theme of entrapment in different forms. This project has made us think more about the images we see and about the meaning that the photographer is trying to convey. When analysed from both denotative and connotative levels the three images prove that there truly is more to the image than meets the eye.