Photography the agent of death?

Photography appears an agent of death for many reasons: the fact that photography reflects necessarily a no longer existing past; individuals die, generation after generation moves farther away from being able to identify whom the photos represent. Barthes talks about his own death and how “that-has-been” of his mothers photograph, will also disappear because he will be its last witness. At some point in every photograph’s lifespan, those who can give real reference to the image fade away, and along with them, any definitive tie the image has to the past.

Most of the pictures (in mass circulation photography magazines) suggest embarrassing strain: odd angles, extreme lenses, and eccentric darkroom techniques reveal a struggle to substitute shock and technology for sight. How many photographers of importance, after all, have relied on telephoto lenses? Instead their work is usually marked by an economy of means, an apparently everyday sort of relationship with their subject matter. --Robert Adams

Photography is a kind of primitive theater, a kind of Tableau Vivant, a figuration of the motionless and made-up face beneath which we see the dead. -Barthes

What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially. -Barthes


“This will be’ and ‘this has been’…the photograph tells me death is in the future….Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe”. Barthes


Wow, what a great and oh so true quote from Barthes, every photograph is its catastrophe, it really brings it home that lifes about death, and photography more than anything else shows us that.

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