Framing The World Through My Photographs

Family snaps -Patricia Holland & Jo Spence – Notes and thoughts

Bellow are my notes and thoughts as I read.

Family Snap – The meaning of domestic photography is a collection of essays, edited by Jo spence and Patricia Holland, published in 1991.

In the introduction to the book, Patricia Holland says that  “family pictures pose a series of challenges, as memories interweave with private fantasy”(Holland 1991: 1) I had never thought of family photographs, holding challenges in terms of fantasy, Fantasy has always meant to me something that is not real, but whats documented in our family albums is real isn’t it? This is something I hope to explore.

Our family snaps offer a way for us to construct a narrative, so that we can make sense of the past. We look back at albums, fill in the gaps. – we may look at these albums and not fully recall a memory, but by looking at photographs they allow us to reconstruct these memories, however each individual viewer, will project their own memories onto what the images mean to the individual.

Family albums allow us to gain a sense of identity, we see the similarities in our lives, in comparison to our ancestors, and sure aspects of life’s have moved on with the times, but what has been photographed has remained relatively the same.

Modern life has seen changes in the family dynamics, there is a higher rate of divorce in families, is this resulting in a shift in how families are documented? Family photographs have always tended to show solidarity between members of the family, but with divorce  higher in families today will families be looked at with a sense of regret or a sense of longing.

“The compulsive smiles in snapshots of today insist on the exclusive claim of the family group to provide satisfying and enduring relationships, just as the calm dignity of earlier pictures emphasised the formality of family ties (1991,1) – the photographs in albums play the biggest part in representing relationships that are held in families, where as photographs of our ancestors were formal in nature in how they were to be represented.

Holland states   “recording the event has become part of the event and perhaps the most important part, no mater how untidy  or unsatisfactory the experience. We can ensure that the picture will project the appropriate emotions into the future” ( 1991, 1). I have identified this within my own life, let alone it being documented within my albums, I go to family events and hide  behind my camera in order to capture the best of the night.Although not in the same terms as Holland states.

The representation of family is centuries old. Photography was an expensive affair when film and digital weren’t available, therefore families unless rich would had to save up in order to be photographed professionally, generally these families would be photographed in the very best clothes to ensure they were represented in the best possible way, much like Holland states in the previous quote.

Reference – Spence, J. and Holland, P. (2000) Family Snaps: The Meanings of Domestic Photography. United Kingdom: Virago Press Ltd.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on November 29, 2014 by in 350MC - photography in context.
%d bloggers like this: