January 22, 2011


Every time I go to a junk store, or antique store, or whatever you want to call a place where people buy old stuff for too much money, I am always drawn to the little boxes of photographs. Most of these types of stores have at least one place where there is a jumbled collection of old photos--from tintypes and glass plates (if you're lucky) to all kinds of images from the early 1900s up to around the 60s or 70s. Not many photos from the 80s...yet.

But, to get to some sort of point before I return to the reading that I am SUPPOSED to be doing, why on earth are we interested in looking and buying photographs of random people we don't know? What purpose does this fill? And could the photographer have ever imagined that their image would end up in such a place, so disconnected from the moment taking place in front of their camera? And what of the people in the pictures? Could they have ever guessed that the fragments of their lives would end up as generic, sentimental, nostalgic commodities on sale for tourists, passersby, and wayward anthropologists?

No comments: