Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vernacular Photography

In recent years, it seems that "Vernacular Photography" has become a true art form within the photographic and art communities. Classifying old, found photos as such is one thing, but then declaring them to be works of art is something else, is it not?
Wikipedia says this:

Vernacular photography refers to the creation of photographs by amateur or unknown photographers who take everyday life and common things as subjects. Examples of vernacular photographs include travel and vacation photos, family snapshots, photos of friends, class portraits, identification photographs, and photobooth images. Vernacular photographs can also be considered types of "accidental" art, in that they often are unintentionally artistic in some way.

Closely related to vernacular photography is "found photography," which in one sense refers to the recovery of a "lost," unclaimed, or discarded vernacular photograph or snapshot. Found photos can be "found" at flea markets, thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, in dumpsters and trash cans, between the pages of books, or on sidewalks.


Taking this into account, many people I know, including myself, are vernacular photographers, or at least will be, when we die and people find our boxes of prints and negatives, or our images on Flickr. But is it really art? As we all know, art is in the eye of the beholder, and yes, there are some beautiful vernacular photos out there. But since photography is all about capturing the MOMENT, are some of these better just because they have captured long lost moments that will never exist again, or are they art because they capture our imagination and engage us in some way. I think unless someone is completely clueless with a camera, there always exists the possibility of making a great image. On one hand, I have seen a person with the latest DSLR take shots that are so lacking in aesthetics that I wondered why they even bother; and I have seen amazing works of art taken with Holgas and box cameras. So putting ability aside, if a photograph stimulates us in some way is it art? (Not that kind of stimulation!) - I suppose it is, but I think we have the "lens of nostalgia" affecting how we interpret many of the images from the past. Four examples are presented below.

Is this a work of art?

times have changed

God I hope not. It's me from 1975 camping with friends.

Is this a work of art?

Detroit, 1950s.

This one?

New Jersey, 1890s.

Or this one?

grasses Take a guess.

Some Vernacular sites you might be interested in that appeal to ME.
The Found Photo
Square America

Let me know what you think. I'd like to think that many of my photos are works of art. Others are just documentation. But someday, they'll be vernacular photography...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Center for the Visual Arts

Center for the Visual Arts
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

On Saturday, Adrienne and I spent a good part of the day at the Toledo Museum of Art. No big photography show there, but I wanted just to view some of the galleries and it has been about 5 years since I was last there. First of all, admission is FREE. Second, they opened a new Glass Pavilion in 2006 across the street and it is amazing. Third, I saw this amazing structure with the light hitting it just so, and had to photograph it. It houses the school of Visual Arts for the University of Toledo, and was designed by Frank Gehry. I shot some holga pics of it too, and will be hoping that they came out well. I love the dramatic shadows and the form of the building, and the clouds were perfect. It could be a really interesting place to shoot at dusk, too.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Keeping Busy

I haven't posted for a few weeks. Partly because I haven't felt inspired enough to do much shooting, and partly because I have been preparing for a sale of my stuff at the Ann Arbor Artisan's market at the end of September. That wasn't something I had thought about until my friend Kate Kehoe convinced me to do it as part of being an Etsy seller http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5264351

So, I have been buying materials, getting prints made, and assembling and matting and packaging my images. It's not hard work, and I really enjoy cutting mats, but it does take up time in the evenings. Hopefully, I'll have a good sale and make back some of the money I spent for materials. I'm trying to price my work at various levels -- 5x7 small matted images for $6, 6x6 matted polaroids for $25, 8x10 matted images for $20 (some are more), and larger pieces matted to 11x14 from $50 to $75, depending on the image. Plus, my cards will be $3 each, or 6 for $15. Nothing really expensive, and maybe I'll be able to sell some of the works that have been piling up in my work area.

I'll also be entering 4 Polaroid images into a show in Hamtramck, MI. One of them is my favorite Polaroid shot.

gull slide

I hope nobody thinks it is worth $125.00, but if it sells for that, I am okay with it.

The other things going on -- I'm presenting a macro photography workshop at Big George's on Monday, October 1 at 6:30 pm. I have to get some on-screen presentation ready for that, as well. I also have things do in preparation for the Michigan Photographic Historical Society's annual photographica show on October 14, which is about 2 weeks early this year. It will be held in the Novi Community Center, where it's been held for quite a number of years.