IAP 3 exercise 3.4 the gaze

The course notes introduce us to eight gazes. As outlined in Bull (2010), these have their origins in Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay in which she applied ideas from psychoanalysis to the viewing of film (Mulvey, 2009) and Victor Burgin’s adaptation of her analysis to photography (Burgin, 1982).
1. The spectator’s gaze – the look of the viewer at a person in the image.
2. The internal gaze – the gaze of one depicted person at another within the same image.
3. The direct address – the gaze of a person depicted in the image looking out directly, as if at the viewer (through the camera lens).
4. The look of the camera – the way the camera itself appears to look at people depicted in the image (the gaze of the photographer).
5. The bystander’s gaze – the viewer being observed in the act of viewing.
6. The averted gaze – the subject in the image deliberately looking away from the lens.
7. The audience gaze – an image depicting the audience watching the subject within the image.
8. The editorial gaze – the whole ‘institutional’ process by which a proportion of the photographer’s gaze is chosen and emphasised.

I would add to this list four further gazes:
9. The internal object gaze – the gaze of a person depicted in the image at an object (as opposed to a person as per gaze 2 above) within the same image.
10. The offstage gaze – the gaze of a person depicted in the image at a person or object outside the image frame. The offstage gaze is often (but not necessarily) also an averted gaze, but there is a subtle but significant difference: the sense that the subject is doing more than simply averting their gaze, and is actively gazing at something outside of the image frame rather than passively staring into space.
11. The offstage viewer – the implied gaze of a person outside of the image frame at an object within the frame.
12. The reflected gaze – the gaze of the photographer captured in a reflection. The reflected gaze of the photographer is simultaneously the photographer’s gaze into the scene and their gaze out of the photo towards the viewer, and it shares both these viewpoints with the viewer, who is now placed both inside and outside the image, bringing their attention to the indexality of the image and making them conscious of the act of photographing.

Image 1 above contains the following gazes:

– The spectator’s gaze, by virtue of the fact that there is at least one person in the image.
– The internal gaze, in the form of the central subject gazing at the right-hand subject, the right-hand member of the trio of standing men looking at the middle member of the trio, the middle member’s own gaze towards the seated woman at the left of the image, and that woman’s gaze towards the woman seated immediately to the left of the central pillar.
– The gaze of the camera/photographer towards all the subjects in the image.
– The averted gaze, of the right-hand subject looking away from the camera.
– The editorial gaze, by virtue of the fact that the image has been framed by me during the process of taking the photo and possibly also during post-production.
– The internal object gaze, in the gaze of the right-hand subject at her glass, the gaze of the right-hand member of the standing trio at something in his hand (perhaps his phone), and the gaze of the woman beside the central pillar at the menu.

Image 2 contains the following gazes:

– The spectator’s gaze, by virtue of the fact that there is at least one person in the image.
– The direct address, of the waiter to the left of the image looking directly at the viewer through the camera lens.
– The gaze of the camera/photographer towards the subjects in the image.
– The editorial gaze, by virtue of the fact that the image has been framed by me during the process of taking the photo and possibly also during post-production.
– The offstage gaze, of the central and right-hand subjects towards someone or something outside the image frame.

Image 3 contains the following gazes:

– The spectator’s gaze, by virtue of the fact that there is at least one person in the image.
– The internal gaze, in the form of the woman to the left of the image gazing at her companion opposite, the two standing men to the left of the right-hand pillar gazing at each other and the waitress immediately beside that pillar gazing at the diner who is in the process of ordering.
– The gaze of the camera/photographer towards all the subjects in the image.
– The averted gaze, of the main subject looking away from the camera.
– The editorial gaze, by virtue of the fact that the image has been framed by me during the process of taking the photo and possibly also during post-production.
– The internal object gaze, in the gaze of the diner beside the right-hand pillar at the menu.
– The offstage gaze, of the main subject towards someone or something outside the image frame.
– The offstage viewer, in the form of the owner of the hand holding a menu at the left edge of the image frame.

Image 4 contains the following gazes:

– The spectator’s gaze, by virtue of the fact that there is at least one person in the image.
– The internal gaze, in the form of various of the diners in the image background gazing at their companions.
– The gaze of the camera/photographer towards all the subjects in the image.
– The editorial gaze, by virtue of the fact that the image has been framed by me during the process of taking the photo and possibly also during post-production.
– The internal object gaze, in the shape of the woman gazing at the plate of her dining companion in the polka-dot top.
– The offstage gaze, in the gaze of the main subject at a person outside the image frame.
– The offstage viewer, being the owner of the arm in the bottom left corner of the image frame who is implicitly viewing the phone held by the main subject.

Image 5 contains the following gazes:

– The spectator’s gaze, by virtue of the fact that there is at least one person in the image.
– The internal gaze, in the form of one or more of the diners in the image background gazing at their companions.
– The direct address, of the main subject looking directly at the viewer through the camera lens.
– The gaze of the camera/photographer towards all the subjects in the image.
– The editorial gaze, by virtue of the fact that the image has been framed by me during the process of taking the photo and possibly also during post-production.
– The internal object gaze, in the shape of the woman gazing at the plate of her dining companion in the polka-dot top.

Image 6 contains the following gazes:

– The spectator’s gaze, by virtue of the fact that there is at least one person in the image.
– The internal gaze, by virtue of the photographer’s gaze at the subjects being captured in the image.
– The direct address, of four of main subjects (including the photographer) looking directly at the viewer through the camera lens.
– The gaze of the camera/photographer towards all the subjects in the image.
– The averted gaze, of one of the subjects.
– The editorial gaze, by virtue of the fact that the image has been framed by me during the process of taking the photo and possibly also during post-production.
– The offstage gaze, in the form of one of the subjects gazing at someone or something outside the image frame.
– The reflected gaze of the photographer in the mirror.

References and resources

Bull, S. (2010) Photography. Routledge Introductions to Media and Communications. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Burgin, V. (1982) ‘Looking at Photographs’ in Victor Burgin (ed.) Thinking Photography. London: Macmillan.
Mulvey, L. (2009) ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ in Visual and Other Pleasures. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.