Monday, March 25, 2013

Sincerely, Snapshots

Snapshots are elegant and heartwarming, and at first glance, simple. We take and appear in these pictures to document key moments like graduations, weddings, and birthdays.  Snapshots are a big part of the way we celebrate family, friendships, and social gatherings.  Perhaps it is because we make these little pictures so easily and so frequently that we tend to dismiss them as insignificant.
Dnna in Crab Shore Parking Lot

But, snapshots are serious pictures from which we build our personal histories.  We take pictures to hold onto the stories of our lives.  Is this why, in the case of fire, the one thing most of us choose to save is our pictures?  

Wendy the Twirlette
In order for snapshots to build personal histories, they are often compiled into scrapbooks or albums.  Historically, the responsibility for this task has fallen on women, who chose or are entrusted to organize and annotate snapshots.  

Scrapbooking Retreat Collage

Authors Stephanie Snyder and Barbara Levine describe the relevance of snapshots, scrapbooks, and photo albums in their lovely book, Snapshot Chronicles – Inventing the American Photo Album.
“. . . in these albums people sought new ways to represent themselves, their stories, and their lives.  It wasn’t for commercial reasons; it wasn’t for fame or recognition. It was, if anything, for themselves and maybe, on a good day, for posterity.”

Snap Shots album cover
Photo Album page with Dad and Big Head
Photo Album page with Grandma
Silver Springs Florida

But snapshots seldom function as self-explanatory, stand-alone images.  Snapshots demand interaction in order to make connections between the present and the past.  The stories come when snapshots are viewed and passed from one hand to another and reminisced over.

Kathy's 1 year birthday

Touching pictures creates the context for the albums as pages are turned and photographs caressed affectionately. Well-loved albums bear the scars of reading – smudges, stains, and bent corners, like badges of honor.  As we look at and handle snapshots, they awaken and bring memories to life.

Grandma Fenwick opening gifts

“Snapshots are complicated. They are full of fact and fiction, life and loss, all that is unique and banal about our lives. They are insistent reminders of our need to be seen and reveal how much we want recognition, while we are alive and after we are gone. Snapshots intrigue us because, modest as they are, they speak eloquently and truthfully about the littleness and the bigness of both photography and our lives.”  — Now Is Then: Snapshots from the Maresca Collection, by Marvin Heiferman

Unleash your snapshots from your camera, your phone, or your computer hard drive.  Make some prints to hold.  Put your pictures in albums or frames or wherever you can see them, touch them, and treasure them.  You won’t regret it.  Sincerely, Snapshots

Betty stayed here

For more snapshot fun, visit The Snapshot Museum, a daily blog, online gallery & saleroom dedicated to British vernacular photography.

1 comment:

  1. I drank in these photos like somebody dying of thirst! They are all wonderful, even if I didn't know you, I'd study them because they show so much--Aunt Betty's purse, those car fins, Big Head!

    When I was little, I'd go over my grandmother's photo album, memorizing pictures of people I didn't even know. That began my love affair with snapshots. Even now, I'm drawn to a shoebox of old pictures in antique stores and will pay $1.00 a photo to have a picture of somebody's graduation or snow-covered driveway. I don't do anything with these photos, just look at them once in a while.

    Thanks for the site--I've already checked it out! And thanks for sharing your memories.


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