Snapshot Photography, Now and Then

Sep 21, 2016

Catherine Zuromskis, author of Snapshot Photography, argues that snapshot photos are not meaningless and too ubiquitous, but part of a cultural ritual.

In a recent essay, Zuromskis also briefly touched on Camera Restricta and explained why amateur photographers might be just fine without my camera after all:

[Camera Restricta is] a digital camera that uses Global Positioning System (GPS) data to prevent the user from taking photographs in overly photographed locations. While a device like this suggests that our compulsion to repeat ourselves is so great that we need technology to push us to be more creative, I would suggest that this tendency toward convention represents more than just a lack of originality on the part of amateur photographers. Rather, it is central to what personal photographs mean. Subscribing to photographic conventions is a way of using photography not just to document the world, but to frame our relation to it, to cast our lot with a particular group and to craft our identity through a constellation of images. Unlike fine art photography, personal photography is less about creating something wholly unique and more about producing and circulating an image that fits a particular ideology.
— Zuromskis, C. (2016). Snapshot Photography, Now and Then: Making, Sharing, and Liking Photographs at the Digital Frontier. Afterimage, 44(1/2), 18

My project looked at snapshot photography as documentation ad infinitum. Seeing it as an endeavour to “craft our identity through a constellation of images” opens up for new investigations. Can you systemize identity creation through photos? Do certain times or places carry in their photographic motive a specific ideology or identity? And if so, can this be manipulated through interventions to the site, e.g. as a means of urban planning?