Most family photo albums are a form of propaganda

I recently came across this article by photographer Martin Parr, on taking better family and vacation shots.  A good read, check it out.

Propoganda might be a little severe.  I come from a family that never took a lot of photos, and of course it was all film, growing up, so the camera didn’t come out too often.  The family shoebox is not full of picture perfect shots of smiling and well balanced family portraits, far from it.

Reading Parr’s article, made me think of the shot above.  I still remember it – the perfect wrongly timed moment, just before, or after – but not when – when the family was posed.  Even the bicycle-horse seems taken off its guard.  I love it (though I recall, in the photo, being peeved that the shoot was proceeding without my presence – that’s me bursting into the scene from the background).

Now I’m told there exists “smile” software – which recognizes the pixels of frowns and corrects them (!)  But I suppose with the ease of the digital age it’s also possible to go too far the other way – I can imagine future photo albums of nothing but fragmented body parts, domestic life documented ad nauseam, junior runs amok with his 20 megapixel camera-phone, bent on exposing the seedy underside of all things family – or in its absence, embellishing images with other software – now there’s an idea… click here to insert gaping yawn, cut + paste bawling infant, etc.   tagging it all and exposing it to the world and clicking on “share…”.

In the end, what’s wrong with a little propaganda?  I mean, we all maintain small pretexts of various sorts in our daily lives.  That’s part of who we are.  The politics of representation have never been clean, anyway.  At the very least, it keeps our observation skills sharp, makes us question what the real story was there.


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