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This means this this means that

I read Sean Hall’s book on semiotics on the recommendation of other OCA students. It is not on the C&N reading list, but perhaps should be.

Semiotics is about how we make sense of the world through our reading of signs. It is a profound subject as it deals with the working of human perception – decoding our own thinking, looking into our own thoughts. For photographers, it helps us analyse photographs and understand the reasons we may read or feel about photos; understanding that could otherwise remain subconscious. It helps us understand how readers of our own images may see them. It helps us in designing tableaux of constructed images.

Hall’s work is in eight chapters: signs and signing; ways of meaning; conceptual structures; visual structures; textual structures; matters of interpretation; framing meaning; and stories. Each chapter begins with a textual explanation and is then followed by a series of images accompanied by a question. The reader is encouraged to consider the question before reading the author’s interpretation that follows. I found the format engaging and perfect for the subject matter – the reading of signs.

I’ve read some comments on social media that the book is ‘simple’. I would suggest that its presentation is simple and clear but the messages are profound and engaging. A book for my permanent collection that will no doubt be revisited over and over.


Hall Sean (2012). This Means This This Means That – A user’s guide to semiotics (2nd edition). London, Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

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