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Response: Awkward Family Photos & The Change of Family Photography Practices

Having read Gillian Rose’s research on “How Digital Technologies Do Family Snaps, Only Better” and a cross look at the archive of Awkward family photos, and reflecting on albums on Facebook, I noticed some changes in the “integrated practices” (72) of Family photography. Looking at Awkward family photos, these are taken from the past and materially well kept by the mothers, are now scanned, uploaded and captioned by their now grown children and shared not only on private platforms like Facebook but an open website.

The dynamic changes here are of two folds: first, due to technological advancement the children instead of the mother have become the curators of these photos; what is shared (awkward ones), how it is shared (via internet platforms) and the important meaning and values of them (they are no longer endearing memorabilia but embarrassing). Even if we deviate from Awkward family photos, and look at photos on Facebook, mothers are no longer the sole curators. Because of the technological advances, other members of the family can easily take, date, organize, upload and caption family photos.

Second, these albums have been moved from a more private and domestic setting (albums, fireproof metal boxes or frames on the fire mantel) to a more public internet archive for all to see, like, share and comment. If it weren’t for technology, awkward embarrassing photos will not become a public joke. The “social” (69) terrain of family photography has changed, and not necessarily as Rose argues is “intensified/ enhanced” (79, 83). However on the contrary, on the case of the Dear Photograph series, moving private domestic photos to an open archive for all to share has created a more positive space and for sentimental and endearing photos, and enhancing the experience.

There is one thing that hasn’t changed and possibly another argument against technology as an “enhancement” for Family Photography: the skills of the photographer and quality of the photo are not the most important element, rather it is the sentiment or “teleoaffective structures” (72) it has on people primarily affiliated with it. Digital family photography maintains to be a crude rendering, of the home and of photography as professional haute arts.


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