Punctum and Studium

Punctum and Studium

I saw this image at the Impressions Gallery, one of a series of images  celebrating the shared history of the UK with Pakistan.

The studium is the broad sense of what the image is about (the where, when and what, of the image). The term relates to the overall interest the photograph has for a viewer and its attractiveness regarding lighting, subject matter, composition and so on. An image of a little girl in a pretty dress eating an ice cream may be a pleasant image to attract our attention.

The punctum is distinct point of interest that jumps out at the viewer. A photograph may be perfectly ‘good’ without a punctum but it is the small unexpected detail that makes the photograph more effective and interesting. The punctum may be different for different viewers as it can be personal to the viewer depending on what resonates with him or her the most. More usually though the punctum will be obvious, the spider on the hem of the little girl’s dress for instance.

The inclusion of the boy’s face at the right hand side of the image above,  is an ‘extra’ detail that is unexpected. The image would have been successful without it but it made the image more interesting. I considered this to be the punctum of the image.


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