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Thursday, 14 October 2010


I live in a studio right now and I find it's way harder to find things around then when I was living in a 3 bedrooms flat. Or maybe it's because I moved everything from the flat into the studio.

Precisely why, when we built my office/digital darkroom/matting and framing shop I limited the size to a 10X10 room. The lady friend and housemate wanted to give me the whole garage to convert - I had to be firm and insist that, no, what I wanted was a smaller space.

Yes, the annotations are fascinating, and I guess many are of the typical self-deprecating kind. Still, some would have been sincere in their requests for the photographer to trash the photos, and I wonder about the ethics of publishing these on the most widely-viewed medium in history. Does the fact many of these people will have passed away make it acceptable? Does a person's right to privacy, to have her wishes respected, end when she dies?

It's not my intention to be churlish. I genuinely wonder about this and would be interested in hearing what others think.

"Does the fact many of these people will have passed away make it acceptable? Does a person's right to privacy, to have her wishes respected, end when she dies?"

IMO, the short answer is, "yes" insomuch as the dead don't care, and the near-dead don't typically either. Those were all requests made as they lived, and as such are the ones that should be honored.

It's a little like the near-dead making arrangements for how their body looks at the funeral. Really? C'mon. Sorry, but the show isn't FOR them at that point.

An easier way to look at this is to ask relatives about the photos. I'll wager they place real value in them, even as the subjects hated them.

Photos are typically for anyone with eyes to view, NOT just the subjects. I still try to convince my mom and my wife of this notion, which they refuse to accept. And so we compromise. I wait or let them get as ready as they want, when they want to be photographed, and don't gratuitously include them in most snapshots otherwise.

These are fantastic! You posted a link to old (maybe found?) personal snapshots a while back and I almost got weepy looking at them. Something in me loves old photos of real people documenting a moment during their time here on earth, regardless of, or maybe even improved by, how seemingly dull they are. (The "Standing in Front of the House" shot is so common it's like a genre all to itself, one that I inexplicably adore.) I searched TOP but I couldn't find that previous post. Now this set, complete with handwritten notes by and about the people in the pictures...they're priceless.

I understand the subjects' feelings very well. It's a constant frustration to me that, while I'm possessed of a quite astonishing beauty, a photographic device has yet to be developed that can record the fact. May I hope that the major manufacturers will focus upon this serious failing in their current technologies, rather than continue to chase the high ISO grail?

John F-

Was this the link you were talking about?


Absolutely wonderful!


Pete's point is taken. It is usual in Australia to respect the custom of the indigenous folk of this country of not freely displaying likenesses nor recordings of deceased members of that community.

In practice a warning prefaces any such display of an image that deceased persons may be shown.

I'm also looking at a book of ethnographic photographs recorded 1903-1928 in Central Australia and there is a warning at the front of the book:

"Readers should be aware that this book contains images of nudity and people in distressing circumstances. It also includes names and images of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people."

It's heartening that the native peoples of Australia find this protocol acceptable; it allows deeper understanding of their history and culture.

The show is FOR them around these parts.

Regards - Ross

This guy (actually, gal I think) is a genius at unearthing superb photos from junk shops. Woth a few minutes of your time http://www.flickr.com/photos/superbomba/


That wasn't it, but it's a good one nonetheless. Thanks!

I did a little more digging and I found it. This is the post I was referring to.

It reminds me I've been meaning to write a group review of a bunch of snapshot books [...]

I hope that this might include Photo Trouvée by Michel Frizot and Cédric de Veigy. Published in the UK by Phaidon, it's an interesting collection of found photographs (that, for me, raises questions relating to the art/not-art discussions on your site some time ago).

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