In 1899 George Eastman had marketed his revolutionary hand-held Kodak with the slogan “You press the button, we’ll do the rest”
This was the beginning of an era when the “amateur” … recorded family life. This new technology changed perception of the domestic world and redefined who had the right to record it. / Wells (2004)
I love my family album,
If I have a time or having a bad time – I do look back at those images. They might make me cry, make me smile, but most of all they remind me of my family, of the good times, and maybe not so good times. The people I didn’t know, but my parents knew, the people who I grown up with and some I haven’t seen for far too long time. The places I have visited or I have left and most of all it just keeps the treasure of all my memories. It doesn’t matter, how silly you look with a bow in your hair that is bigger then your head, or your wearing your favorite skirt, which by your mums comment were the only thing you would allowed her to dress you in…
I have stories that have been built around those images, from my mum’s, dad’s, and grandma’s point of view.. My own mischievous scribbles behind the images (that obviously weren’t allowed, as I was tiny and I didn’t had a clue what to or how to write). This is all ME, me and my family, friends and the place.
I believe that we all have these good and not so good memories, we might choose to show these images to others or keep them just to ourselves, but at the end of the day, no matter what we decide to do with them, they (the photographs) will be the story tellers of our life.
What makes me wonder is that if the “Family Album” is all about portraits of people, group shots taken at Christmas, Easter, Christening, Wedding, Birthday, in my case Name Days, New born Babies, Prom and maybe just some ordinary day in kitchen, when mum is cooking, baking and defiantly entertaining us.
As Susan Sontag said: “A family’s photograph album is generally about the extended family and, often, is all that remains of it.”
Does “Family Album” involves shots of your favorite place, food, drinks or a green house with amazing poppies, that are not needed to be at that particular bed, random snaps, that remind you of fabulous road trip through 8 countries (this did happen to me, I was rather moody, and sleepy and so not enjoying early morning run to the nearest shop for a cup of coffee)… Returning to the point I was making, is “family pictures” all about the family, or does the place and space around as tells the story as well as a snap of my grandma sitting by the Christmas tree.?
For me (as a person with point of view) I have to say, that not all of the stuff you have snapped away should be displayed in Facebook, blog or any other delightful 21st century invention.
I know it is what we are tented to do. And I do it, with out thinking of it. Till my brother and his fiancée had a baby girl (yes, I am a proud auntie) that was the moment when I released that those moments should be kept in private. I am not saying that I wouldn’t be tempted to upload silly, adorable and amazing images of this little girl (the same as her parents), but shouldn’t it be decided by her. After all, she is the one we are exposing to other. I don’t count this as being over protective, I count it as being protective over a child, and if one day she decides she will post images of her first birthday, first car, or University graduation, she will have those images and rights to use them as she please.
Social media is bigger then we think it is and it can be used in different way.
- To promote yourself
I know that there are people who do produce images of their personal life and still do display them socially as work of art, Richard Billingham (as one of them) photographed his family for many years, and his proximity and familiarity mate it possible for him to record the minute of their everyday life.
Richard Billingham is an artist who is well aware of the nuances of visual culture, and his lengthy study of his family is built upon familiarity and access. It is “family photography” of a remarkable kind, made in the chaotic interior of the family’s council apartment. Billingham says: “I was shocked when I relized that people can’t read photographs… People weren’t seeing any beauty underneath, none of the composition, none of the pattern.” – Surprisingly I don’t see it either. There is nothing pelasing about this image.
But I decided to look at this from different point of view. What about others, what if there are people who can relate their own experience to this. What if, the colors of wallpapers and different patterns reminds them of their own childhood and home, place to feel safe. In this case, yes I can’t agree with the artist and say – you have your point there. There are people and their families are different and the relationships are different, but should it be published?
“Changing the Context”
2. To expand news globally
When it comes to social media, it can be useful for people that have gone missing or have committed crime, these images, that used to be family portraits, that are meant to be for private view turns into something outstanding, something recognized… For example Madeleine McCann was abducted from Praia Da Luz, Portugal on 03/05/2007, at that time I was at Guernsey, visiting my family and her images were displayed everywhere and still there are Airports, bus stops, train stations just a random notice boards, where you are able to see this little girl. These images that has turned from something personal to something global brings people together and it does change the context of “Family Album” into crime and global news.