Sunday, February 18, 2007

Somebody Wants Your Blurry Photos

ephemera has an interview with vernacular photograph collector Ron Radue. Vernacular photographs include those found in the typical family album—photographs not taken for the sake of art, but which, given the right context, may be viewed as art. Radue himself has a large collection of images of an unrelated family from Detroit, his hometown.

The collection acted as a virtual time machine; I was able to visit places that no longer exist. I was able to see what the contemporaries of my parents and grandparents looked like on an average day...not dressed up for a wedding or other special occasion. I could see what kind of cars they drove; bikes they rode; toys they played with; stores they visited; streets they walked; factories they worked in; schools they attended; and, much more! It is an amazing trip that I can now take whenever I want.
Other collectors choose themes less conventional.
Some people even collect blurred photographs; photographs where the photographer inadvertently placed a finger over the lens; or photographs where the shot was missed, such as the subject’s head got cut off, etc.
In this context, my father was a photographic genius.


I had a friend whose father took a lot of vacation photos that included the side mirror of his car. Oh yeah, great view, interesting monument, pretty scenery ... but not worth getting out of the car for.


My father took the family snapshots when I was young, but later my mother took over the job. She never got the hang of looking through a viewfinder, so we have lots of photos of two-thirds of the family.

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