The family and social media

The family album and social media

• M.C. Duncan (home portraits for amateur photographers 1899)                                                     ‘when amid life’s surging battle, reverie it’s slice lends, sweet it is to scan the faces, pictures faces – of old friends.’

1899 George Eastman marketed 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. providing a compact camera that was fun and easy to use.

• Idea that photography allows memory to last forever
• Encouraging people to take pictures
• On the side of the road there was signs that said scenic stop here and take picture

Family photographs
• Staged or natural (capturing unawares)
• Both but most of the time staged
• Fact or fiction? How truthful are domestic photographs?
• Fact and fiction – fact because you are capturing where or what or when but fiction because you mainly smile and show the happy times
• Recording history – serve as a reminder
• Re-telling stories
• Reveals sitters identity?
• Not the full identity because you are only seeing identity of what they wasn’t to show

“Family photographs can be considered cultural artifacts because they document the events that shape families’ lives,”  Charles Williams,  – 

What do we photograph?
• Weddings
• Holiday
• Holidays – Christmas, Easter etc.
• First day at school
• Birthdays
• Milestones – birthdays/ anniversaries

Susan Sontag ‘A family’s photograph album is generally about the extended family and, often, is all that remains of it.’

Not funerals as disrespectful but then flowers/ coffin/ family together

The photographs will also enable them to talk more easily to others about their loss.  – click on text it will bring you out onto a BBC article on photographing funerals.

Look at pictures from Annie Leibovitz taking pictures of Sontag97b88e40ef3bc6df52ce675960f3f9f5

“I don’t have two lives. This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.” Leibovitz created a book called ‘a photographer’s life, 1990 – 2005’ looking at pictures of Susan Sontag that Leibovitz had taken through her professional photography career. She released some deeply emotional pictures that were meant to be personal but felt that she had to release them to connect everything together, including the picture of Sontag dead on a gurney. Some thought that they were too personal and disagreed about their release and thought that it was unfair as Sontag was not there to say which ones could be released and which ones could…

Mortality in Photography: Examining the Death of Susan Sontag

• “Personal photographs are embedded in the lives of those who own or make use of them” (Wells – 2004 – page 119)

• “Treasured less for quality than their context for the part they play in confirming and challenging the identity and history of their users”

first digital camera 1973
2003 cannon sold the first camera that was affordable

(www) started in 1991 but goes global in 2002
google privately 1998 – publically – 2004
Facebook 2004 but January 2015 was the first social network to surpass 1 billion
Digital era – how to communicate your photos with the rest of your family over Facebook
Who has the right to see it/ the photos…?
‘community’ websites – making contact with other people for social, cultural, personal, economic, and even political relations’ (Bate – 2009)

• “from kitchen to bathroom, social media invades our lives”

change of context – private made Public
• Hollie and Jessica – 2 young girls murdered
• Maddie McCann – still not found but there has been said to be sightings of her from people that have never met her but know what she looks like from the media.                                                                                                                                                 If they had not taken those photographs then they would not have been able to send them out into the public for people to look for them. The police would not have known who they were looking for apart from a description.

(carrying on…)
Trish Morrissey – 7 years, 2003May-1st-1976.jpg
Includes photographs and video work created over a 2-year period and is inspired by family photo albums.
Elaborately constructed portraits – worked closely with older sister to impersonate family members (both real and imagined)
Referring to age gap between Morrissey and his sister

This is similar to a trend that is going round know where families are re-doing old family photographs from when they were younger. Re-reating childhood photos.


Sally Mann – immediate family, 1992SallyMann_CandyCigarette.jpg
Challenged and criticised for he photographs – accused of sexualising and being neglectful
Said that they are all real but because she used medium format they had to be staged
‘the good wife’ – series about Mann

Richard Billingham ‘rays a laugh’ 1995billingham_richard-untitled.jpg
Uncomfortable to look at – but shows and underlying love and care for family and the photographs
Took initially to paint from but ended up keeping as the photographs – giant images that appear as if a painting but actually a photograph.
Tells a story and you can see how it progresses

• Personal and family photographs are composed specifically to portray the individual or the family in a way they wish to be seen. (Liz Wells)
• Images feed our need for a clear sense of identity and of cultural belonging. (Liz Wells)
• We should use photos to ask questions rather than try to show facts (Jo Spence)
• The family album is viewed as an important tool in the reconstruction of a personal history, searching among its cast of characters for meaning and explanations. Kuhn 1995)
• Do we remember the events of the past or do we remembers photographs of them? (Sontag 1977)

Sally waterman ‘keep smiling’ 2015Hope_fades_Little_Mate_web-FTKUT76UER-medium
– a set of 28 diptychs of letters that were sent to her when she was at university 20 years ago. They are of letters sent to her by grandparents, old boyfriends and friends. They are of  support, love, regret, and loss juxtaposed with closeup views of personal snapshots which have then been re-photographed to show the texture of the photograph.

‘The series embodies memories of insecurities and ambitions of student life, away from home recalled through an engagement with a personal archive.­’


Personally while looking through social media and the effect on how we encounter and relate to family photographs, is that because photographs are so easily accessible on social media, you don’t tend to think of them as precious. They are always there so they are not as special, unlike the ones you get out at home that are physical photographs. These that you hold carefully are try your hardest not to rip and once you are finished they go back in the folder or photo album. On social media we take this for granted and more often than not you don’t even back them up just incase something crashes. They are on the internet which is still something that is fairly new and unpredictable, so you don’t know if something was to happen and then all of those memories are lost forever. People are more likely to scan in and back up old photographs onto the internet, than print out and save a hard copy of online photos.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s