Context and narrative are discussed in an article by Terry Barrett at the link below:
In it he suggests that to understand or appreciate a photograph that we need to “replace a pictured segment back into the un-pictured whole” in order to understand what a photographer has done to a real world situation.
He also suggests that in order to appreciate an image we have to discern the difference between a picture and the reality from which it is made.
He says “Without considering these distinctions, the photographer drops
out, and the photograph becomes transparent; the viewer is left mistakenly considering the photograph as a real-world object or event rather than considering it as a person’s picture”.
This to me is true and undeniable.
You can often see this in the snaps that people take while on holiday.
In this shot you can see some mechanical device but where is it ? what is it? when is it?
The photographer knows the answer to all these questions but they’re not apparent to the viewer.
All they have is an abstraction of the whole and it’s open to individual interpretation.
Whereas in this image it’s less ambiguous.
You can see the nice sky, you can see it’s a ride and if you look carefully you can see it’s in Brisbane; now the picture can be seen in context with the whole or real world.
This to me is what he is describing when he says:
“Internal, original, and external context are distinctions that serve to remind us of sources of information about a photograph, and they can be examined in attempts to interpret a photograph.
Sometimes the information is rich and other times meager.
The less information we have about a single photograph, the less chances of reducing the ambiguity of that photograph and forming a correct interpretation”.