I started to look at the “social media” aspect of #selfie images and how a lot of the images are taken in bedrooms or other places in the house, often away from any “friends” and then uploaded onto the internet for “friends” to look at, like and comment on which seemed to me a bit anti-social.  I then started looking at how we use social media and found a lot of people update their statuses and interact with people on-line when they are alone, either at home or travelling, either way, not really interacting with any human beings in the real world.  This struck me as such an odd thing to do, speak to people on-line via texting or typing messages back and fore, rather than communicating in a more natural way, like speaking face to face.  Conversing over the internet leaves out a whole lot of other communication skills that we have developed over-time and have began to use without even thinking about it, for example, reading body language.  We can tell when someone is approachable, happy, angry, sad, friendly within seconds, just by our ability to analyse how that person stands, how their arms are positioned, how they lean against something which we loose when using social media.  We also can not establish that persons voice tone, typing makes it harder to convey a sense of feeling and with that, meaning, its harder to decipher a text written in a certain way than someones tone of voice.  We also loose other expressions like those minuscule movements of a persons face which give away boredom or hope.  And then the hands, we use our hands to communicate so much, whether its waving to say “hi” or hold someones hand in a show of sympathy or care, or even when waving them around, gesticulating when we speak, that is lost too.  But then we are still using our hands to communicate to a degree, we are using them to hold our phones, grasp them tightly, hold them high to take #selfies, and to type messages out to our “friends” which then becomes a gesture, we use them more as tools to convey the idea that we are being “social” by using these sites.

I started to look at how we hold our phones and the similarities in hand gestures and realized that they were not so far apart.  I have begun to move away from the Insta-Rips and am now concentrating on taking photos of peoples hands, in the poses we see people holding them in when taking #selfies specially, but without the phone present to see what they would look like.

Below is the first edit I have done.  I have used my friend Alex as a model for me, and have been playing around with crops and whether to include a background or not, so far the white background is my favorite, the black being my second.  I like the uncluttered-ness of the background and the way the focus is all about the hand and nothing else, and I like that the hand is also seeming to “reach-out” from no-where to make contact, much like how social media enables us to reach out and grasp other’s friendship when we are alone.

How many times have you skimmed through your social media newsfeed only to be confronted by yet another selfie of someone standing in their room, pouting into the mirror?  Or been out with friends and gone to speak only to be met with tops of heads, while they are engrossed in their phone?  It seems to happen to me, A LOT, so I’m guessing its happening to most people at some point or other.

This project originated from the #selfie culture that seems to be taking over the internet and newsfeeds on most, if not all, social media.  I began by taking my own selfies and originally wanted to use them to create something but I couldn’t fathom what.  I think part of idea formation for me, especially with this project, was that looking at images of myself was a bit too close to try and decipher what I wanted to do with them, for me they were just me and that was that.  I moved on to looking at items which define a selfie, from mirrors to mobiles and the apps with which we share these images on.  I started to look at other peoples images of #selfies and did a Google search using #selfie as the search term.  I came across a website that groups all images shared on Instagram by the words they are # categorized with and started to filter through them, looking for images where the phone was in the shot, and the image taken in a mirror and started to download them to my computer.  I then went back through them and started an editing process where I started to get rid of background in the images that didn’t really seem that interesting or relevant to what I was trying to focus on.  In the end that just left a lot of arms and hands and phones floating around inside frames….

I’ve really missed blogging here and writing about my projects and haven’t blogged since November 2013, nearly 4 months ago :(  I’ve missed writing for fun but had to take a forced hiatus of sorts as I had to write my dissertation for uni.  This is now complete and over with now and I can begin to ease myself back into blogging about things I love!  :D

I suppose, as my dissertation took up so much of my time and became my life for such a long time I should let you all know what it was about…  The title for my dissertation was “The Self Portrait and The Selfie”  which sums it up in a manner.  I chose the subject of the Selfie as I have been interested in social media and the selfie for as long as I can remember, not because it fascinated me but because I just didn’t understand why people want to take selfies and post them all the time,  I got myself an iPhone and an Instagram account (@siouxsietench if you want to follow me!  I follow back in most cases…) and so began my own journey into the world of selfies.  My dissertation split down into  3 main chapters, Chapter 1 looked at Self Portraits and the history behind them, from paintings to photography and the shift in technology that helped push photographic images of the self into the mainstream arena.  Chapter 2 was about the Selfie today and how social media (focusing mainly on Instagram) and mobiles have become acceptable ways of taking and sharing the selfie image, how the way we label images changes our perception and interaction with the image and others and how it has become popular culture, Chapter 3 looked at the future of the selfie with regard to developing technologies and movements within the context of the selfie and how we label them (ie; using the # not just as a way to label images but to become a platform for communities to chat about shared ideas (see #felfie )  I quoted Kesha along the way and also linked to the Chainsmokers #Selfie song too….

And eventually I finished.  8989 words later it has been printed and bound and submitted for marking and I’m so relieved.  I can’t say that the process has been enjoyable, for me it has been a struggle to meet the word count as I really don’t like using too many words when a few will suffice so a lot of time was spent expanding on my sentence structures.  My lecturer said that I’d chosen a difficult subject to write about as it wasn’t “static”, which, at the time I didn’t understand.  I know what she meant by “static” now though, in that the #selfie is fairly new and there is so much being written about them in newspapers and magazines, blogs and books at the moment, there has been a bombardment of opinions about the topic and that has been a hard thing to negotiate.  But its finished now and I can get back to doing stuff I love, like blogging and art!  :D

 

#selfie

I know I’ve not written here since July which seems so long ago when in reality it is just a few months.  I am now in my 3rd year of my BA(Hons) PhotoArt degree and I’m starting to struggle with what I am doing, what direction I am going in, what I’m thinking, writing, doing, where my head is at and what I’m producing.  The main subject for my final major project is the “Selfie”.  There’s so much being written about on this subject that it *should* be easy to pick a path to follow for the project.  But I CAN’T.  I seem to have ideas and they don’t seem good enough or when discussed they just don’t seem to have much substance or sticking power, they are half baked and not that creative or imaginative.  I am struggling to know what to do and how to do it.  But perseverance is key and I have ideas to try out, I have no idea whether they will work or if they will be any good but I will try and somewhere along the line I am hoping that everything will make sense and that it will all click into place sooner rather than later.

The summer project we were given in uni to work on over the summer was to start researching, looking at and producing work that would see us through our final year and form our final piece, preferably in line with our dissertation which should lead on from our Literature Review that we wrote in the final term of our second year (you can read mine here ).  I wrote about snapshots and how the introduction of technologies, such as the camera phone and DSLR’s, software like Photoshop and photo-sharing (Facebook and Instagram for example) have changed how we take, manipulate and share images.  Many family photo albums have ceased to exist once film cameras have been replaced by digital capture devices, instead these images remain stored as digital data on computers and discs, a selection being uploaded to be shared with friends on social networking sites. 

With this train of thought going on, I have started to turn my attention to the actual images we share.  With software such as Photoshop becoming more affordable and easy to use we can manipulate images we take , never having to share a bad photo again.  I have noticed that many of my friends now go through their images with a fine tooth comb, editing sometimes to the same degree that an advertising image may be edited, before sharing.  Gone are the photos of us with less than perfect skin/teeth/hair etc, as to are the badly framed images where peoples heads are not in the shot, blurry images and those “happy accidents” where the camera has miss-fired and captured something we didn’t mean to capture.  Much of this is down to the image taking capabilities and the method of shooting.  With film cameras we did not have the means to review an image straight away, and the cost meant we couldn’t take images one after the other after the other like we can now.  With film, people were limited to 24 or 36 shots per roll (35mm film) and depending on how much film you could afford to purchase and then pay to get developed, now with digital image taking you are only limited by how many images you can fit onto a memory card or the battery life of your camera.

Anyway, back to images we share, which I’m thinking is where I am going to be focusing my energy for this project and dissertation work…

rene not a pipe

 

I keep seeing this image (above,The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe) by Rene Magritte) and I am beginning to form links with images we see today.  (Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter from Belgium who lived between 1898 and 1967, the image is currently on display in LA County Museum of Art) .  The image makes us question our relationship to images, this is a pipe, but it’s not a pipe, it is not the actual object but a representation of that object.  In the same way, with photo editing software, we an question photographs and other images we see today, flaws an be removed, skin and eyes made brighter, teeth whitened, people slimmed, backgrounds changed, people an be edited out – a pretty endless list of changes can be made to an image before being shared to the public domain.  Any image we view now needs to be viewed in the same way as Rene’s work as many of the images we see are just representations, not a actual truth which could be captured and less easily manipulated when using film to make images.

With film though, and its the same with digital image capture, as a viewer we are never really sure if an image has been staged to look a certain way or if it is spontaneous, for example, I could decorate my house out with all the Christmas paraphernalia and take images supposedly showing the festive season but have taken them in June… the viewer could come to the conclusion that the images were actually made in December but the truth is way out.

This all then brings me to advertising campaigns, with all this photo-editing going on in our own homes, and fairly easily at that given that there are you tube tutorials for just about anything and everything you could ever want to do, we, as viewers are more likely to question adverts.  But this is not my point… With all images being edited to some extent or other, our “snapshots” that we share have become an advert, something carefully constructed, and thought about in terms of how we are seen in these images by the viewers of them.  As image takers and sharers we are fully aware of what the images we are seen in say about us.  We want to be like the models in adverts with the perfect skin, glossy hair, having fun, being fashionable, being popular etc… that we only ever share the best images of us.

Anyway, this is just a few of the thoughts going around in my head at the moment with regard to my dissertation…

For the project that runs alongside my dissertation I have been looking at film snapshots and Corrine Day in particular as she has shot many projects in the style of snapshot photography, Diary (some images from this project can be viewed on her site here) being one of them.  I am unsure which direction to go in with snapshot photography as I have a few directions and interests on this subject – one of those being to take my own snapshots and focus, possibly, on re-creating or making snapshots of everything I would normally use digital imaging for, or look at the extinction of film photography and photographs, family albums as actual objects, and old film created photographs as the precious objects they once were.

This is the literature review I wrote as part of my second year in Photo Art (BA) .  I thought I would share as it links in with the work I have been doing under the main title of “Voyeurism, Surveillance and Control” where I was looking at the role of Facebook in data collecting and how social media links in with ideas surrounding voyeurism, surveillance and control.  From that I started looking at what else we share, from that I came to look at images and how we share them, from snapshots we made using film (35mm/120mm and other films) to digital media sharing of today.  I am fairly pleased with the grade and feedback I had from this essay (B12, which means a mid B!) as I was worried that the subject I had chosen was too big to talk about in 3500 words (excluding quotes) however, this now gives me leeway with writing my dissertation which I am going to be branching out from this subject further and looking more at modern ways of sharing and how the shift in technology has affected the ideas behind the term “snapshot”.

How Social Media and Technology Have Created a Shift In The Family Album and Snapshots.

 


 

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 – The History of Photography and the Family Album
  • Chapter 2 – The Family Album and Technology
  • Chapter 3 – The Snapshot
  • Chapter 4 – Kodak Culture
  • Chapter 5 – Image Making And Editing
  • Chapter 6 – Sharing Images
  • Chapter 7 – Photo Editing, Technology and the Home Today
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography


 

Introduction

 

I have based my reading around the topic of social media and snapshots as I feel that this is a really big trend in the 21st century and is also one that is set to continue as the technology shifts to create better cameras and easier ways of sharing images.  So far we have witnessed the rise of the device-attached camera, such as those on the mobile phone device, MP3 players (like the iPod) and even camera’s on laptops and computers.  Most of these devices can now easily connect to the internet, most mobiles, and some computers have in built internet (mobile phone SIM packages and the invention of the Internet Dongle) which has then impacted on how we both take, and share images, to the extent that the traditional ‘Family Album’ does not readily exist in the same format anymore, it has become no longer a treasured object but a mass of data saved on a hard-drive or existing on the world wide web somewhere.

With these thoughts in mind I have predominantly based my reading around a book by Risto Sarvas and David M. Frohlich which deals with the shift in technology and snapshot photography – “From Snapshots To Social Media – The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography”. This book was published in 2011 by Springer.  As it was published quite recently, the book not only deals with fairly current topics but also gives historic information about the technology used in creating an image and talks about the changing role of the photograph from daguerreotypes, calotypes and other early means of photography to where photography is today, what photographs mean, how shifts in technology have both influenced and shifted photographic means and how this has affected the idea of the family album and even on to where photography may be headed in the future.

I start this literary review with the history of photography, not only as it is covered in the first chapter in the book “From Snapshots to Social Media” but also because without understanding the history of photography, the camera and the image we would not be able to understand how we are where we are today in the terms of sharing images, photography and the means with which we share our images.  Without the history of photography to build upon images and the sharing of photos would look totally different, for society and for us personally.

 

The History of Photography and the Family Album

 

“From Snapshot to Social Media” talks about Family Albums and how through a need for storage of images that they came to be produced, “The tremendous popularity of the carte-de-visite, which was termed ‘cartomania bought about the birth of another key element of domestic photography; the family album.”  “The paper albumen prints, of which cartes were one type, required no case but were kept in albums for protection, and importantly, as a convenient way of showing and storing the images.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)

The carte’s are described as “a photograph of a certain size and material: a 63mm x 100mm (2.5” x 4”) albumen print photograph pasted on a slightly larger piece of cardboard.  A carte was the size of a visiting card, and initially the photographs were used as such.  However, the small size proved more important in bringing down the price and costs of photography.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)  Carte’s and their production were important in changing the distribution of photographs and photography, whereas once only the elite members of society could afford to have their image made (such as with the means of daguerreotypes), the production and relative cheapness of cartes meant that more people than before could afford to have their images taken, and even collect and distribute images to family and friends.  Cartes were a turning point for photography and the sharing of images in general.   The colleting of images and storing of images led to the family album, which not only documented the family life but all things meaningful to the family in general.  The book “From Snapshots to Social Media” explains “The public image of the domestic was presented in the same format and in the same book as the public images of members of aristocracy, celebrities, statesmen, clergymen, and scientists, along with views, events, news, and moralising or humour-focused commentaries.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)   It was not just photographs of immediate family that were collected but other influencing role models that had currency in the families beliefs and social ideals were collated together too.   This meant that anyone who shared in the viewing of the family album could understand, not just the fundamentals of the family but their social standing and the belief systems that they subscribe to.  The paragraph then goes on to draw parallels with photographs used on social media sites today “As mentioned, much as do the twenty-first century’s social networking service profile pages,  which present the person; his or her social network; and the larger-scale public figures, events, news, etc. that he or she supports or values.   Also, both cartes and the profile pictures on the Internet adhere to a specific visual code, the purpose of which is to declare one’s belonging to a specific social group or class.”  This is a very relevant point that has been outlined in this comparison as we can see how historical means of photography has influenced, and in some ways remained the same, although the means of viewing the image may have changed, from actual photographs to images displayed on-screen, the way the subject is perceived is still as important today as back then.  It is also an interesting point that is made, that the albums of old and the images shared on social media networks have the same point, both are used to define who we are, what we are about, our beliefs, class, sub-cultures we may subscribe to and any other factors that an act as a visual representation of who we are and what we stand for.  Today images are still stored at home, “People go abroad and take photographs, then return home to view, show, share, and store the captured pictures.  The cameras, photo albums, prints, printers, computers, mobile phones, television sets, and other photographic technologies can all be taken out of the home space, but they do ‘live’ at home as much as the owners of these technologies.  Their resting place is at home.”(RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).  While the images still exist, they are stored in a much different way.

 

 

 

The Family Album and Technology

 

Through the birth and development of technology, the traditional photo album has ceased to be a popular choice; many people now use computers to store their many photographs, the images staying as computer files instead of actual objects.  However, in order to keep the images in some sort of system they are stored in file systems on the computer or uploaded to the internet, social media sites in particular (ie Facebook) and stored in virtual “Albums” which still have the same meaning and read in a similar way to the albums of previous years.  People still want to share their ideas, beliefs, social standing, culture, etc, with friends and that has been made easier through technological developments over time.  The whole concept of the family album, sharing who we are and what we are about, then leads us into the sharing of our images, which is discussed further in the next paragraph.

“The albums had a more social and interactive function as well.  They were a source of entertainment and stimuli for conversation, (Wichard and Wichard 1999), and the albums also encouraged the practice of exchanging photographs amongst family and friends.  … Therefore, the album contained the images not only of public figures, and members of the family, but of friends and relatives as well.  Effectively, the family album became a catalogue of who belongs to the family, who their acquaintances are, and the wider public context the family wants to associate itself with.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).   From this explanation of the Family Album and its functions we can apply this to images on social media today.  In such a way, the images we share on social media networks has not moved on from the past, we still want to be associated with certain ideologies, and want to control the context in which the viewer perceives us.  It is interesting, then, to note that it is not just images of family, friends and other people that are shared that add to this perception, brands and products are also photographed.  You only need to look at photographs people share on social networking to see that this whole idea prevails today, for example, young people making images of their Starbucks coffees, there is a whole connotation surrounding coffee, that it is sophisticated and classy, and grown up, then there is the connotation of the Starbucks brand – their mission statement “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.” (Mission Statement | Starbucks Coffee Company. 2013. Mission Statement | Starbucks Coffee Company. [ONLINE] Available at:http://starbucks.co.uk/about-us/company-information/mission-statement. [Accessed 04 April 2013].) straight away conjures up images of being hand crafted, special, one of a kind, artisan, but also the general ideas surrounding the Starbucks brand, one of expense, luxury, sophistication,  are also ideals that people want to be associated with. By taking photos of these things, the photographer, themselves, is creating their own unique ideas of themselves for other people to see.

While I am looking at the similarities in traditional family albums and how they still bare similarities to image sharing on social media it is worth investigating and noting women’s role in the up-keep of the family album.  “The role of women in the early decades of snapshot photography gradually was formed into the role of curators of the family photo albums.  Both men and women photographed, but the family album was typically left to the mother of the family.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).  Although the idea of the family album has changed from being one of a physical object to one that is now predominantly kept online, women, more than men still seem to be the main curators, for example on Facebook the average woman uploads 347 images and is tagged in 73 whereas men upload on average 179 images and are tagged in just 35 (Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. 2013. • Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.statista.com/statistics/181756/number-of-photos-uploaded-and-linked-by-facebook-users/. [Accessed 20 March 2013].) I am not sure whether this is down to women having more accounts on Facebook than men (52% of users are women compared to 48% of men (• Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. 2013. • Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.statista.com/statistics/181756/number-of-photos-uploaded-and-linked-by-facebook-users/ . [Accessed 20 March 2013].) which is not a great percentage difference but in terms of actual figures can be considered a lot when you understand that Facebook has over 1.2 Billion users worldwide (United Kingdom Facebook Statistics by Countries | Socialbakers. 2013. United Kingdom Facebook Statistics by Countries | Socialbakers. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/united-kingdom . [Accessed 16 March 2013].)) or whether it is down to women being more sociable and wanting to share occasions with their friends.  It can be argued that women have continued with the role as curator of the family album and have adapted this role to fit with social media or it could be that women are just more sociable in today’s modern society built on social media and networking. (Women update their Facebook status on average 21 times per month whereas men only update their status on average 6 times per month in comparison (Facebook: A Profile of its ‘Friends’ In light of…. 2013. Facebook: A Profile of its ‘Friends’ In light of…. [ONLINE] Available at: http://pewinternet.tumblr.com/post/23177613721/facebook-a-profile-of-its-friends-in-light-of . [Accessed 04 March 2013].).  From these figures it can be seen that women have adapted and adopted social media as another tool in keeping in touch with friends and family.

 

 

The Snapshot

 

From looking at the history and relationships between the family album and the role of photographs in social media, it is important to look at the actual type of photography that is being used in both the family album and the images shared on line.  The type of photography that is being used in both fits in to the genre of snapshot or domestic photography.   The book ‘From Snapshots to Social Media’ describes the term “domestic photography” as being “used to describe the photographic activities of ordinary people taking and using images for non-professional purposes. Also in our use of the term we focus on the kind of use in which photography is not a hobby as such but embedded in other activities.  The word ‘domestic’ implies that the activity takes place mainly in the home, and the home is the headquarters for this activity.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer) The same book uses a similar definition in explaining snapshot photography “(i.e., unskilled amateurs taking images with their own cameras).” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)  In other words, both of the definitions given mean the same thing and have the same characteristics and can be spoken in the same way with the same effects being given.  While we are defining the meaning of snapshot photography it is important to note other’s definition of the term “snapshot”.  The book “Photography, Theoretical Snapshots” speaks of the term as being used “to describe an amateur form of image-making, requiring little or no photographic skill on the part of the photographer.” (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  It is interesting to note that all definitions are similar in that they both define the snapshot to being an image made by ordinary people, with no formal qualifications in photography, and producing images for no financial benefit.  The benefits of such photography is mainly along the lines of documentation, of taking photos of meaningful family moments, of capturing occasions and holidays, family, friends and relatives, to enrich and add to a long standing family history and tradition.

Because snapshots are taken by unskilled amateurs there are mistakes made along the way during image creation.  Half of the appeal of snapshots can be the technical failings, and are easily recognisable when looking at any family album. “…most family photographs are not particularly distinguished on the level of technical skill or approach.  We may wish in retrospect that we had taken extra care in composing a photograph of our friends and families, that the regular mishaps of a finger over the lens or ‘red-eye’ had been avoided.  But ultimately these are not the criteria by which such photographs succeed or fail for us.  What is important is the presence of loved ones at a significant event or moment that prompted the taking of an image…We generally take pictures at symbolic points in family life, at times when we acknowledge our relationship bonds and social achievements.  They are moments we want to hold onto, emotionally and visually.  Typically the situations are shared cultural events: throwing confetti after a wedding ceremony, blowing out candles on a birthday cake, serving a meal at religious festivals.  Or they demarcate our rites of passage: a new-born baby being bought home, a ride on a new bicycle, a grandparent teaching a child to read or tie shoelaces. ” (Charlotte Cotton. 2009. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. 2nd Edition. UK. Thames and Hudson).  We still take photographs of all of these kinds of events, however the margin of error has been narrowed by developments in technology where we can review the image we have taken immediately, re-shoot, re-compose or edit at a later time.  There is less worry placed upon cost of film, not knowing if the image you have created is free from imperfections and running out of film, most cameras, now, record the image onto a memory card or device that is capable of holding hundreds, if not thousands of image files.  It is also interesting to note that it is these flaws, and others that affected film photographs that are now being sought to be replicated in such applications as Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Kodak Culture

 

To understand how photography and snapshooting came to be part of domestic life we need to look at and understand Kodak Culture.  Kodak culture refers to the society that came along with snapshot photography and the brand.  Kodak was responsible for creating cheap snapshot cameras that penetrated the market and made photography accessible to all, seemingly, most people then owned and shot with a Kodak.  This is addressed in “Photography, Theoretical Snapshots”, which states  “Only after Kodak began to advertise snapshot cameras as a means of documenting family life and emotional relations in the domestic sphere did snapshot photography gain such a poignant and important role in the chronicling of sentimental family histories.” (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  In other words, Kodak and their advertising campaigns created a desire and need for snapshot cameras and then provided a fairly affordable means of people being able to own their own snapshot camera with which to make images of their own.  This can be summed up nicely using the following extract “Nancy Martha West has shown, for example, that snapshooting was first associated with outdoor activities like biking, skiing, and picnicking (West 2000).  Only after Kodak began to advertise snapshot cameras as a means of documenting family life and emotional relations in the domestic sphere did snapshot photography gain such a poignant and important role in the chronicling of sentimental family histories.”  (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  This statement is further backed up by “A camera did not have a place in the everyday life of people prior to the Kodak camera.”(RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).

This “Kodak Culture” still prevails today , however it is not just using the Kodak brand to create images, this is outlined in the paper “Snapshot Media: “Kodak Culture” in the 21st Century” written by Risto Sarvas, Asko Lehmuskallio, Vilma Lehtinen, Jaana Näsänen, Sami Vihavainen , “Our starting point is the so-called “Kodak culture”, which is concept describing film-based snapshot photography. Currently snapshot photography is digital and networked, and ever more mixed with other forms of media production. This is why we extend the traditional “Kodak culture” to include all forms of media and related services used for capturing, storing, distributing, and showing user generated content. This array of user-generated media we term snapshot media.” (. 2013. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://users.tkk.fi/u/rsarvas/Sarvas_SnapshotMedia.pdf.  [Accessed 10 April 2013]. )  In these terms the Kodak culture can span the 21st Century and include all types of creating snapshots, including images taken on all matter of devices and created by use of such applications as Instagram and those viewed on social media sites like Facebook.  Just because the means in which the image is captured has changed from that of film photography to digital as the predominant method of shooting an image, there is still a culture of taking images to document everyday life.  People still want and need to share their daily life with friends and relatives, document important parts of their life and share in happy events.  This can be seen with the rise of Instagram, launched in 2010 and now having over 100 Million monthly users and as many as 40 Million uploaded images per day (statistics courtesy of Press Center • Instagram. 2013. Press Center • Instagram. [ONLINE] Available at: http://instagram.com/press/ . [Accessed 04 April 2013]. )

 

 

Image Making And Editing

 

As I started to touch upon previously, the shift in technology has changed how we take images, process images and share images.  There was a step away from the daguerreotype to other forms of image taking and making, from medium format to 35mm, the introduction of Polaroid which was probably the first “instant image” maker similar to the digital camera in the way the image was taken and viewed quite quickly afterwards, (although not totally successful, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2008 is notable when discussing technological developments) then the invention of stills film cameras which led to digital cameras and now many devices containing cameras (think of mobile phones, computers, ipods, ipads etc) and that is just in the image making sector.  When we look further into technological developments we need to also look at the processes which have changed how images are developed, gone are the chemicals, plates, dark rooms and long waits for prints, and in come the PC software’s designed for editing instead, the likes of Photoshop, once a specialist, expensive software, now readily available to most people.  In that spectrum we can also consider the development of photographic applications that run on mobile phones such as Instagram, marketed on its own website as being “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”  (Instagram. 2013. Instagram. [ONLINE] Available at: http://instagram.com/ . [Accessed 04 April 2013].)  Instagram is a photo editing application that you can access on “Apple” devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod and then upload to your social media sites to share with friends.  With this shift in technology and the speed and “instantness” with which we can share images, it is no wonder that digital technology has taken over as the preferred means of “snapshot” photography.  There is an argument running that mobile phone cameras cannot be professed as cameras as they are an addition to an already existing device.  “The camera phone, on the other hand, is a multi-purpose device, and capturing images is only one of its several functions. Second, because the camera phone is a general-purpose device, it cannot be optimised as a camera.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).  However, because the device has a camera and is being used more and more in today’s everyday life as a snapshot maker, this argument can be seen as pretty much invalid.  The argument should be about the snapshot, and if the device can create an image that is able to be shared quickly and easily then, as far as it is concerned, the camera-phone is just as much of a valid means of creating the image as a more traditional camera.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing Images

 

I believe that this instant-ness in sharing images has changed the way photographs are created; from the subject through to the way we view them.  In the book “The Photograph as Contemporary Art” it is stated that “What remains absent in such images, however, are the things we perceive as culturally taboo or mundane” (Charlotte Cotton. 2009. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. 2nd Edition. UK. Thames and Hudson) Due to the ease of sharing and the popularity of social media, the need for people to belong to groups and sub groups, to be able to subscribe to certain cultures and appear ‘cool’ to their peers there has been a rise in photographing the mundane such as coffee from Starbucks, where there is a perceived ideal of the brand that people want to be associated with to making images of food, not only at home but in restaurants too.  The Guardian recently ran an article about photographing food where “in Alicante in Spain, the restaurant group Grupo Gourmet, which owns the much-praised Taberna del Gourmet and Monastrell restaurants, has started running a “Fotografia para foodies” course on the basis that, if people are going to take pictures, they might as well do it properly. Chef-patron María José San Román says that the worst thing about bloggers taking pictures in her restaurants is that, if they don’t do a good job, or if they do it after eating half the food, the result looks terrible.” (TREVOR BAKER. 2013. Is it ok to photograph your food? The Guardian. [Online newspaper] http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/mar/11/food-photography-is-it-ok (11 March 2013)) In a world where sharing images is such a common-place activity it is interesting to see how businesses are accepting this need and are willing to help out and run these sorts of lasses, not only then do they get the best possible image of their brand/food out into the open but the customer benefits too in learning a skill which can be called upon again and again.  There is an awareness of audience and, as is implied above, there is nothing worse than a bad image being made and then circulated, as the businesses image takes a knock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Editing, Technology and the Home Today

 

While looking at modern day image making and creating we must look at the home, and photograph editing in general which was mentioned above when talking about Instagram, as many images created on devises now are digital the means of editing and producing them has changed from that of film photography .  Instead of taking photos with a film camera and then dropping the film off at a photo lab for developing, printing and finishing we have now stepped away from this and because of the format images are made on, we can now edit at home.  With this in mind it is worth remembering that digital photography and the home is a topic that is both broad and covers many different functions From in-device photo editing software, to software that was once only available to professionals (for example Photoshop) due to cost and the rise of software available for free on the internet it seems that there is a way for everyone to control their own editing and appearance of taken images.  Part of the appeal of Instagram is the ability to apply simple filters to the taken image and therefore edit the appearance before sharing.  With the costs of photo-editing being so accessible, most people can now produce an image that is to their standards and show things that they want shown in a way that can strengthen the way in which they are perceived one the image is shared .  This can then link back to the discussion around the family album that was had earlier.

Technological developments that have taken place have seen a shift in how we create images, from the daguerreotype, a limited-to-one edition image made onto a metal plate progressing to film of several kinds, to the first kind of ‘instant’ image of the Polaroid, then shifting towards digital with Stills Film Cameras and into what we now have with digital cameras readily available.  It was written that “the Polaroid instant camera was a predecessor of the digital camera.  Like the instant camera, the digital camera does not require an external development service in order for the photographer to see the captured image.  However, digital photography eliminates also the need for a disposable capture medium –the film.  Digital photographs are often stored on a separate medium, the memory card but the same memory card can be used over and over again.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)  Moving image capture away from the “disposable camera medium” has helped with the depletion of the traditional family album, where once, images were taken and made into objects they are now taken and edited as a digital mass of code and then published to social media to share with friends and family, emailed to chosen recipients, or kept as files on the home computer, or now virtually (Cloud storage) away from the computer but still as accessible.

There has always been an element of “truth” or “dis-truth” in photography, the saying “the camera never lies” is often disproved and in so many ways the images we include in our family albums and the ones we share to friends through social media should be seen as being a carefully “edited” version of our lives and ourselves rather than being a dis-truth “Home photographers (I,e snapshooters) hardly ever take photographs of friends or family members arguing, painful experiences or unhappy people, and if relations or situations change after a photograph has been taken, the unwanted photographs are removed from frames or albums.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)The same goes for image taking today, with digital cameras being able to take so many more images and images being able to be reviewed so easily, deleted and re shot, we are never given the full picture surrounding that one shared image.  This whole idea is illustrated perfectly by Catherine Zuromskis in “Photography, Theoretical Snapshots” where she is talking about “the image itself often offers a distintly rosier and inaccurate vision of the events portrayed.  A week-long family car trip marred by arguments and tears can still produce the perfet portrait of the entire family, harmonious and smiling, in front of the Grand Canyon.” (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  In this way, we may see the perfect image but not understand fully the background to it.  This too then becomes an important factor in how we are viewed, and with this editing process, along with the ability to review and re-shoot images we are still able to control how we appear to others.  As a viewer we should be aware that the images we are presented with may not tell the full truth about that person or give the fullest background to that person.  Even with such seemingly quick shooting and sharing of images there is normally a thought process behind them.

 

Conclusion

 

In conclusion I feel that the term “snapshot” has changed over time, both through technological advances in how images are made and through how the images are shared.  I do think, though, that the Family Album, although not in the traditional sense of the word, still exists today as the images we choose to share and display through social media to our friends and family.  However, the topic of snapshots and social media is vast, only a small element of which has been covered in this review, there is so much more that can be considered such as the subjects in the images and the relationships of the family, artists who re-create the feel of snapshot photography (the likes of Corrine Day spring to mind, her snapshots being created for fashion purposes), the rise of certain types of photographs in social media (for example the “selfie”),  the rhetoric of the family photographs, the similarities between captured occasions that we all experience, the emotions attached to images, photos that act as remembrance, photographs as memories and whether we remember something because there is an image made of the event and the conversations surrounding snapshot images and whether they truly are snapshots still.

I’ve not blogged about what I have been up to for a bit as I have been writing a literature review for uni (3500 words) which has now been submitted for grading.  Alongside that I have been working on my final project of the year which has been about social media, sharing information and is part of our end of year module “Voyeurism, Surveillance and Control.”  My work was shown in our university course’s end of year exhibition “Power and Control” so a week of my life was taken up with sorting that out.  There will  be a few posts covering all of this in the near future.

The most exciting thing that has happened to me is the Pontypool project that I was working on last term, my friend and I met up with artist-in-residence for Pontypool, Alexia Mellor and became her “Consultants-In-Training”, we passed this with flying colours and are now part of her legacy for the town.  our first ever newsletter is available to read, from the beginnings, to a brief outline of our projects to what we are planning!  More info an be found here, so please take a look and let me know what you think!!!  :D  There will be further updates on this project and all of the other projects I have been working on soon!

 

I am currently working on a project looking at Pontypool, the map of the area and memories associated with places in and around the local area.  I am asking people about their favourite place/location and memories they have of the place in order to create a new kind of map.  In order to capture the data I am asking people to fill out a simple form (below) or pop in to the space we are currently residing in, (Stall 21 in Pontypool Market, (also known as Mellor Management/The Incubator) to give us your favourite places and share memories and put your mark onto the map!

If you can’t pop in for whatever reason, the form below can be filled in and will be sent directly to myself to add data for you!

Thank you for your time and information!

You can follow the project at http://www.artreviewed.wordpress.com orhttp://www.projectpontypool.wordpress.com,or  pop and visit us at Stall 21 (Mellor Management/The Incubator) in the market

The project so far…

You Are Here Mas Intervention

Putting Your Mark On The Town (Map)

Don’t forget to check back regularly for updates on how this project is shaping up! :D

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Scanning (For) Memories is the next stage of my Pontypool project.  I will be setting up and trialling my “Scanning Station” on thursday (25th April 2013) in the Mellor Management Training Incubator between 10 am and 2pm.  I will be asking for the public in the town to bring  photographs, letters, tickets, nick knacks, anything that holds local memories, to stop by and share those memories, and have the item scanned or photographed as a way of capturing information.

I am hoping that I can capture local stories, personal memories and locations that can be used in my “You Are Here”  , (other blog posts here and here) but also to gather together personal effects which can be used in a memory book of the town that I intend to create.

So, if you have any interesting memorabilia of the town, regardless of how old or new, bring it by the Mellor Management Training Incubator on Thursday (25th April) between 10 am and 2pm and share your stories!

I have been thinking about space and place throughout this ‘You Are Here’ mapping project (here), how we experience space and place and how we form memories of those places.  I decided to put together my own “Memory Pack” to see if I can create and capture those experiences and memories and get people viewing the place they choose in different ways.  I decided upon a picnic/lunch bag as the carrier for the “Memory Pack” as it is associated with days out, fun, holidays, school trips and fun memories.  Inside that I placed a plastic lunch box filed with all kinds of things….
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The Lunch Bag/Carrier

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“Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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I included bubble blower as it has fun connotations and memories of being a kid,

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Crayons,

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Pencils

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Balloons

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Post-It-Notes to use with the crayons and pencils to write about your favourite place, draw on etc,

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A bottle to capture tiny treasures or anything that is interesting from your favourite place,

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And a disposable camera to capture the memories on.  (this will be processed and a copy of the prints given to the participants for free)

Memory Pack rules

And I included some rules!

***A £1 deposit is required before you are able to book out the “Memory Pack” which is refundable upon return of the pack.***

***”Memory Pack” is available to book out for periods of half an hour unless otherwise agreed***

***Prints may take up to 1 month to process and distribute***

To take part in this part of my project please pop into the Mellor Management Training Incubator at Stall 21 in Pontypool Market or email us at projectpontypoolincubator@gmail.com, please also visit www.projectpontypool.wordpress.com

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