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Why We Say “Cheese”: Producing the Smile in Snapshot Photography (by C.Kotchemidova)

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Post on 31-May-2020




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  • Why We Say “Cheese”:

    Producing the Smile in Snapshot Photography

    (by C.Kotchemidova)

  • I. Two Perspectives Toward

    Understanding Communication

    • I. Transmission Model

    • II. Cultural Perspective

  • I. Transmission Model

    • Transmitting a MESSAGE from a SENDER to a RECEIVER through a CHANNEL and with the always present but reducible interference of noise

  • I. Transmission Model Questions asked (e.g.):

    – Was the message accurately transmitted?

    – How does the received message effect


    – “Who says what, to whom, through what

    channel, and with what effect?” (Laswell)

  • II. Cultural Perspective

    • Communication is the creation of meaning by people through symbols in a specific social & cultural context

    • “Communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired and transformed”

    – James Carey

  • II. Cultural Perspective Questions asked (e.g.):

    - How is meaning constructed?

    - What reality is being produced, maintained, repaired or


    - Where do the ideas & information that we communicate

    come from?

    - By what processes (& in whose interest) is reality produced,

    maintained, repaired and transformed?

  • We study (and critique) culture. We study:

    Interpretations & Reception

    History & Context






    Media Representations

    Individual and Shared Meaning

    Individual and Shared Values

    Individual and Shared Beliefs

  • Communication as

    transmission only?

    Example: Advertisements

    • If goal is only about sending a message

    (i.e. “transmission”) in hopes the

    receiver “hears” it (and buys the

    product), how do we describe what‟s

    going on in this commercial?


  • Team Bill vs. Team Eric

  • Team Edward vs. Team Jacob

  • III. Case Study of the Cultural Perspective

    A. Kodak Photographs: Snapshot culture & the smile

  • Why do we say “cheese?”

  • Cultural perspective of

    snapshot culture:

    RQ: How did the smile come to be the

    photographic standard?

    Or, “How did the consensus to smile

    in photographs arise and who

    produced it?” (p. 4)

  • Kotchemidova: Outline

    1. How media construct meaning


    2. “Political economy” & cultural meaning

    3. Media & Technology

    4. Social power & ideology

  • 1. How media construct meaning


    • Kodak‟s association of photography with


    • Changed the discourse about

    photography to one of pleasure

  • Smiling women,

    Smiling children,

    Smiling soldiers

    going to war,

    Smiling animals

  • 1. Kodak‟s symbolic

    construction of meaning

    • Markets photo as play

  • 2. Political economy & cultural meaning

    • Kodak‟s “cultural leadership”

    • 1915: controlled 75-80% of photo


    • Horizontal & Vertical control

    • Major advertiser and media producer

  • 2. Political economy & cultural meaning

    • What power did Kodak have as a

    “cultural leader?” (p. 5)

    • And why the smile?

    • Role of amateurs?

  • 3. Media & Technology

    • Different media “do” culture differently

    – “Medium theory”

    • A medium‟s structure encourages

    different ways of thinking and

    processing info

  • “That the medium of choice was visual particularly helped the

    Kodak message to be uncritically received” (p. 13)

    The Grand Narrative

  • 4. Social power & „ideology‟

    • Cultural symbols are a form of power

    • Who did the cultural construction of the

    photographic smile benefit?

    – Kodak

    – Advertisers / consumer culture

  • Application

    • Mcdonald‟s smile

    • Coca-Cola‟s Happiness Machine