Note On Connotations

The Red Dancer  Knut Skjærven

The Red Dancer © Knut Skjærven

A quick word on connotations, and on denotations, for that matter. They often go together.

You can do definitions of the two very complex, or you can do them very simple. In this context, simple will do.

Denotation refers to the physical objects that you shoot. Connotation refers to the psychological impression those objects leave you with.

What you shoot, and the way you shoot effects connotations.

In The Red Dancer denotations are: shoes, dresses, floor, legs, human skin, body parts, trousers, and whatever you can find. If you guess the scene if from a dance floor, you are absolutely right.

As for connotations they are of a different sort and more subjective. Here are a few words I would use to suggest connotations in this picture: excitement, lightness, maybe eroticism, fun, happiness.  In this shot even jealousy. Is there an element of aggressions as well with the strong foot coming down? I will leave that for you to decide. These things are not fixed anyway.

The red colour is particularly good for connotations. It suggests excitement, strength, and dynamism. Possible danger. Not only, but also.

Here is more on colour psychology.

That’s all. Follow the links above if you need more information. Good luck with shooting connotations in the future.

This post is a Workshop Special.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen, May 26, 2013.


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  1. #1 by Leslie on May 26, 2013 - 6:40 pm

    Nice post!! Has me thinking more about this and the why we shoot or the moments of life that we capture. Thanks for raising this awareness…

    • #2 by Knut Skjaerven on May 26, 2013 - 8:19 pm

      Many thanks. I find that things can become real easy if you only bother to name them :-). Thanks for taking the time reading this post.

      Have a good day.


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