jessicaoakes

Framing The World Through My Photographs

Gillian Rose – Doing family photography

Whilst doing my research I was finding that a lot of my books were pre 2000’s however I came across Gillian Roses online book Doing family photography. Rose is a professor in visual geography.

“One long-term project, which resulted in a book from Ashgate Press in 2010, looked at family photos. I approached family snaps by thinking of them as objects embedded in a wide range of practices. I interviewed women with young children about their photos, and also looked at the politics and ethics of family snaps moving into more public arenas of display when the people they picture are the victims of violence. The book explores the different ‘politics of sentiment’ in which family snaps participate in both their domestic spaces in the public space of the contemporary mass media. – Gillian Rose (- http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/main/staff/people-profile.php?name=Gillian_rose)”

Below are some thoughts and notes on the sections of the book I read:

  • ” in recent years we are seeing  our family photos being distributed in different way to we had before.” – Rose talks about this in terms of disasters such as the 2004 tsunami, september 11th , and the 7/7 london bombings, –  these were times of panic for the concerned family of the feared missing, the only way of finding there missing loved ones was to use the family snaps, pasting them around the area they went missing. Media has started to play a massive part in such cases. The media is a powerful tool today, possibly one of the most circulated family snaps is that of Madeline McCann 10 years later and the news is still circulating that image, as well as in photo fit of what she is expected to look like today. Her photo has infiltrated many lives with the power of the media.
  • Family photography has become an incredibly popular in western culture – Although the next bit of data in the book is dated but how much photography is being used – In 2005 it was estimated that 39million rolls of film were processed, 20 million disposable cameras used and 2.8 billion digital images were taken. Now over half UK house holds own a camera ( I would suspect that  practically every uk households own a camera whether it be a compact, slr or on a mobile phone).
  • What is the Global North??? – Economically developed societies in Europe, north america, Australia, israel & south africa.
  • Rose says that you would be hardpressed to find anyone in the global north that doesn’t poses a few family snaps of the family memebers. It is possible that nowadays with the popularity of the digital and the ease it is to connect them to computers, it’s possible some people have thousands – shooting with digital allows us to click away without thought as to what we take, we soon clock up the number of images we have.
  • “Life can be cropped, embellished and laid out according to available resource’s”  – The image/picture is the perfect relation to this quote. As Jonathan has always said a photo is a moment fixed in time, bound by its edges, but we only see what has been bound… we can see whats next to it, the image maker has the ability to decide what we include what we leave out.

Chapter 3 – what is done with family snaps?

  • The interviewees in the book stressed how important it was to take photos of their family members in particularly their children.
  • When a child is a new born many more photos are taken, of them doing simile things, smiling, moving extra. Documenting the growth of the baby in what they do and their looks.
  • When the child/children grow up the interviewees agreed that taking photos of their children became more considered. Rather than just taking photos of every moment.
  • Page 25 – “ photos were not always treated as particularly precious items” Rose was told photos shoved into boxes or albums.
  • The interviewees in the book laughed at the amount of photos they had taken of their babies.
  • It should be argued that family snaps should be thought of as a form of object, that has specific material qualities.
  • What is done to the photos is as important as what they look like. – how we display them, what order we put them in.
  • Rose argues that family photographic practice produces both subject positions as well as social relations.
  • Page 27 – baby photos seem to be the most generic type of family photos. They are photos of firsts. They all show significant moments in that child’s life. (First time home, first shoes, first steps, first birthday party, etc) Why shouldn’t these be photographed and documented. Why should mothers feel embarrassed when showing these images? Feeling the need to say sorry, as the viewer is likely to have seen many albums of similar visuals.
  • Page 27 – Some of the women with older children would photograph first days at school, birthday parties and school shows etc.
  • Elizabeth – taking photos of her children of her children has become something of a tradition – all the family in bed together watching the child opening their presents.
  • Rina – Expressed that when she was ill there were no photos taken of her. Photo albums don’t show the sad things, they only show the happy things, so that when the photo album is opened it only show happy memories.
  • The makers of the family albums are aware that family albums are constructed to show the family happily at leisure.
  • Page 28 – Family photographs hold more than just the visual content of what is shown, but they also hold material form, the paper they are printed on, the text written on the back for our own remembrance. But they also exist on our computer screens as files or displayed on them.
  • The general consensus between the participants of the book was that there was a worry that digital images are less accessible due to the way they are presented to us.
  • One participant said that they are sorry that we are in a digital age as she didn’t feel there is the time to sit at a computer to look at photos, Rina said she prefers to sit and look through an album as she feels it bring memories to life.
  • Most felt its easier to pick up a physical album to look through it, rather than sit at a pc.
  • With digital the participants feel that there is always an intention to take them to a shop to get the images printed, but it rarely ever happens.
  • When film was used for family photography, they had to be printed in order to view the images we had taken. Where as digital we store them in files on our computers.
  • It was thought by the participants that analogue photography in terms of printing felt more natural as there was no choice to get them printed, whereas there was an uneasy feeling about printing digital images.
  • The screened slideshow is now replacing the photo album. – Our images are very much seen online.

Gillan Roses book was of great interest to be. I didn’t however, manage to read all of it but the parts that I did read made me question aspect of family photography. I  found the book enjoyable to read as the format it was set out in made it easy to understand. Rose had undertaken a series of interview with mother which alowed for a relaxed informal thought on the state of family photography.

Rose highlights how we document family life, documenting a series of firsts. but also how we are now seeing family images in the public space of the media.

Reference – Rose G. (2010) Doing Family Photography [Coventry University e-brary]

Ashgate. ‘Available from’ < http://site.ebrary.com/lib/coventry/detail.action?docID=10376624> [ 20 December 2014]

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This entry was posted on December 20, 2014 by in 350MC - photography in context.
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