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Summary: Zuromski’s Intimate Exposures

Catherine Zuromski accomplishes a surface reading of the snapshot photography genre, specifically in the domestic setting. She divides her collection of observations and interpretations into two distinct sub-categories: snapshot photography as image-object, and snapshot photography as a set of practices.

The album keeper, or owner of the photographs has the agency to organize, embellish and display the narratives of the mostly human subjects of the images. Errors are commonplace, as techniques like composition, framing, and lighting take a backseat to capturing the subject, moment, or place. However, the snapshot photographer still aims to make the subject look attractive, and capture them at their best resulting in photos which are staged to present the most ideal scenarios. Zuromski concludes from these observations that “the snapshot is thus a physical symbol of domestic harmony and cultural conformity”, (47) but also a remnant of people places and things immortalized through the photo as object, able to be resurrected any time an album is brought out or a shoebox is opened.

Photos can reveal the constructed, ideological nature of tradition both in the way they are shot and how the subjects and photographer act in the preparation and execution of the photo taking. Due to the possibility for “mircoaggressions” such as silly faces, blinking, head shaking etc… the subjects have agency over the photographer, who is often the matriarch of the family. Albums constructed from family photos also expand into subjects of friends, colleagues and even strangers from the network of subjects. We see modern examples of the photo network through Facebook where it’s not uncommon to see people you don’t know tagged in your photos. Album keepers also have the ability to revise family histories by removing photos of people who no longer belong in the network such as ex-friends and ex-partners. Even though snapshot photographers lack the professional knowledge of photography, the photo-taking process (the interaction between Operator and Spectrum) acts as an affirmation of interpersonal relations.

About Alexandra Orlando

A game critic, freelance writer and Twitch streamer. My writing mainly focuses on e-sports, streaming, game narrative and performance in gaming spaces


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