In many ways, the means of photographically capturing the precious moments in life has changed. From the first cameras and the studios designed to make fancy pictures of people, through accessible Kodak film to the masses to the now of snapping their faces with their phone. These sorts of things dwell here.
The family photo has been almost as long as photography and has become somewhat of a staple of family life, the album being the collective sharing space of visual memories for generations if children, parents and grandparents. Since Family Photographs have become the norm for most families in one form or another, much like other aspects of life, the Family Photo has in some ways been taken up by the artworld in many forms, sometimes satirical, sometimes profound and heart warming.
Awkward Family Photos
When friends Mike Bender and Doug Chernack came up with the novel idea of putting awkward family photos on a dedicated website they may have struck a spot of genius. After a day indoors looking at their own family photos and seeing cringeworthiness in their family memories, they decided to amass a collection of similarly awkward and cringeworthy family photos from all over, starting a site that serves as crowd sourced archieve of awkwardness of sorts.
Their tagline, 'Spreading the Awkwardness'.
Contributors to the site are by the terms of agreement, more or less, agreeing to be ridiculed by the public by way of what would be for many, precious family memories. The site even has merchandise that it sells. It seems that in the name of a good laugh, that people are happy to let others make some cash at their cringy expense.
I first found out about this site through the Cracked.com article, http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-insane-pop-culture-obsessions-people-turned-into-cool-jobs_p2/ Number 2 on the list.
John Clang, Being Together (Family)
John Clang has a unique take on the family photo, one especially suited to the modern globalised world were families like his own are separated by oceans and continents. Using Skype and a large projector in his New York studio, he projects the webcam feed of his family onto the studio wall, moves into the projection of his family and they gather as group for a traditional sort of family group portrait or a duo sort of portrait, then a picture of this set up is taken.
The DaguerreotypePerhaps the earliest form of Family Photography was the Daguerreotype, and it became somewhat traditional among families of day what with it becoming an accessible photographic process in the 1860s. Photography was becoming more informal and with the Daguerreotype becoming popular, photography was less a practice of scientists, experimental enthusiasts and the early professional photographers, and more something everyday people could make use of. Families would save up and then pay a visit to the nearest photography studios that were popping up all over at the time with the Daguerreotype's rise in popularity, and there they would have their family photos taken, which was novel at the time as such things were usually painted and the preserve of the rich and very important. Some would simply go for an individual portrait as well, many posed in a proud and important manner like the painted portraits of old. Other Daguerreotype photographs of the time along similar family/personal photographic lines included things like cadaver portraits, in which the recently deceased would be dressed and posed for their photo. This of course made making the image a lot easier due long exposures required of the process becoming less of a cause for error through the inherent stillness of a posed corpse.
Information of Daguerreotypes from in lecture (and notes)
General Daguerreotyrpe informantion avaible on and from The Daguerreian Society: http://daguerre.org/index.php
In many ways, Family Photos can be part of Personal Photography, but what counts are Personal Photography is rather broad, because what people class as being personal varies from person to person. Holiday snaps, selfies and pictures of dinner taken with an Instagram filter are all arguably types of personal photography, they are personal to someone in someway.
In the realm of the Personal Photography (certainly including the Family Photography), Kodak have certainly pulled a great deal of wait. Kodak being the photgraphic comapany of course, started making waves in the realms of personal photography, in way much like the the Daguerreotype, by making photograhpy more informal and more accesible, which they did with the Box Brownie camera which was first introduced in 1900 as was little more than a cardboard box. The Box Brownie was cheap to buy and made use of multiple shot film that was similarly cheap to have proscessed and was marketed with the slogan 'You push the button, we do the rest'. The presence of of Kodak and their affordable and accesible meant for many personal momment like weddings, holidays school plays etc., would be captured by Kodak.
Origin of the Box Brownie: http://www.brownie-camera.com/articles/origin/origin.shtml Archive of Box Brownie Adverts and Posters: http://www.brownie-camera.com/posters/index.shtml
Dutch photographer Willem Popelier has delved into the realm of personal photography in many ways, many of his works could be said to investigating an element of narcissism in personal photography from the now cliched nature of the selfie to the nature and influence of high fashion photography on people.
In his works Showroom and Showroom Girls, Popelier collected images taken from computers in the shop showroom floors that have intergrated cameras, the webcam sort. Being computers so open to the public and intended to demonstrate their capabilities, people passing by and trying them out took pictures of themselves and Popelier collected the digital images created by this. In the case of Showroom Girls, he collected some 91 images and 2 videos (finding out that they likely created 153 images) and dispayed them, but with the faces and thus their identities covered up, which was not the case in Showroom. The nature of the internet and social network and its personal relation was explored somewhat in Popelier's installation of Showroom Girls whereby a dot matrix printer printed out in real time feed of the Twitter account of one of the featured girls, the actual content and profile picture obsucured, but tweet size, shape and date still visible.
Showroom Girls: http://www.willempopelier.nl/showroomgirls.html
Linking back to the idea of Family Photographs, Popelier while looking through his own began to question the nature of identity in personal photographs when seeing how physically indistinguishable he and his identical twin where in the old family photographs in This is Me & This is Me.This is Me & This is Me: http://www.willempopelier.nl/thisisme.html
The selfie is somewhat of a modern phenomena of photography and feels very much of the internet information social networking age, and is by way of being a type of self-portrait, is by definition and action a type of personal photograph (though this feels like a long semantic debate) and Popelier picked up on the selfie and investigated the nature of it. Through his own analysis of the trends of selfies and various tips and articles about them, he created The Do-It-Yourselfie Guide, which ended up as a guide of 66 rules (with 66 accompanying selfies). The work is rather curiously presented as a series of small cards with the rules and selfies on them in a small white box. This sort of presentation makes it feel like a personal little curio box, perhaps in one way reflecting the nature of the selfie (and perhaps giving the selfie a somewhat satirical elevation in status above its worth). For me, this box presentation seems have some similarities with the popular game Cards Against Humanity which also comes in a similarly simple box and consists of several small cards and is like the selfie, a rather recent phenomena online and amongst internet generation (at least amongst the dark and wicked humoured internet folk in the case of Cards Against Humanity).http://www.willempopelier.nl/diyselfie.html
Popelier also created a series self-portraits that aim to be recrations of Vogue magazine front covers through the years 2012/2013, which he titled En Vogue. Perhaps in this work there is some exploration into the influence of high fashion images on us, the public and how we respond to it and how it makes it see ourselves, or maybe it is a simple satirical take on these sorts of images. Popelier's self-portraits were presented in galley with the appropriate magazine to the image nearby for people to see and compare. Popelier himself is not as glamed up as the models in the original photos, but imitates the poses very well.