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Photo Album

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Photo Album
Thomas Warren
Research and discuss the family photograph album. How and why is the family album used to construct notions of identity?

Introduction Family photo albums have existed in many different forms. Not only as a personal flick book documentation containing “the chronicles of a family’s private story” (Fong, 2004, p.86) capturing special moments and events of the past; but the idea of documenting one’s past through images has been in existence since humans roamed the earth. Through pre-historic silhouettes of humans painted on cave walls; through the Renaissance where portraiture was available to those families who could afford it; to the point in history where cameras were available to the amateur mass public whereby photographs could be developed by any single individual. Here moments could be captured at complete ease in great volumes and assembled into albums and passed down to generations. But why the desperation to capture our identities in these freeze-frame moments that were previously hours? What do these freeze-frames say about our families, our identities and ourselves? This paper will discuss these ideas and how a photo album is a selective and stylized documentation of our lives. Theories of how the awareness of others viewing one’s “private story” could manipulate one’s personal identity through careful selection of chosen images displayed in the photo album. How the photo album generates nostalgia and longing that transports the viewer from an unpredictable future to a past that is stable. And finally how the overwhelming support of the Internet allows one’s photo album to be rendered digitally for many others to view questioning that the photo album is only a narrow vision of one’s life and therefore portraying an artificial lifestyle.

Many generations of families have used the photo album to document their lives and record proof of their existence. Despite our ever-changing life style we use photography to capture these moments



Bibliography: Cooper, M (2010), Lgbt Identity and Online New Media pg.103 Fong, M Hamburger, E. (2012) Facebook revamps privacy settings and Activity Log, now lets you untag photos en masse [Online] Available: http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/12/3758410/facebook-revamps-privacy-settings-and-activity-log [22 December 2012] Sultan, L Sultan, L. (1985), Genius of Photography, [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/photography/genius/gallery/sultan.shtml [Accessed 23rd December 2012] Sultan, L. (1985, Genius of Photography, [Online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/photography/genius/gallery/sultan.shtml [Accessed 23rd December 2012] Sultan, L. (1992), Pictures From Home pg. 109 Sontag, S (1973: 87) The Methodological Dilemma: Creative, critical and collaborative approaches to qualitative research pg.107 West, N. (2000) Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia pg.11 West, N

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