Hidden In The Everyday represents the subject and method of vernacular photography through the documentation of everyday objects outside the home. The photographs are constructed to reflect the historical landscape of photographic practice and contextual meaning, informing the evolving human experience.
Technology is a driving force that affects all aspects of our lives. The timeline of photographic technology is entwined with a continuous struggle to define the image (Wells, 2015, p. 15). From the Kodak camera’s arrival (Fineman, 2004) to the digital age, the camera adapts to new and unexpected applications (Wells, 2015, p. 14). Where analogue photography observed reality, the digital could construct new perspectives (Wells, 2015, pp. 25-26), which challenged the authenticity of the image. However, it is not the camera that defines the visual, but the individual and collective values inherited through social, cultural, political and philosophical ideologies (Wells, 2015, p. 41).
Hidden In The Everyday is conceived around the initial perception of photography to replicate reality (Wells, 2015, p. 14). By examining vernacular photography – that which is not art (Chéroux, 2018, as cited in Miller, 2018), the selected imagery documents subjects that exist in the real world. These subjects are hidden forms, situated and forgotten, blending into the background of the banal.
The process of creating the photographs involved minimal intervention with the camera (Martin, 2014). Selecting a ‘shoot from the hip’ technique, the subject was observed by the eye, not through the viewfinder or screen. The method provided the opportunity to document without personal influences or learned behaviours of photographic practice. In essence, taking the vernacular as subject and process to incorporate the vernacular style (Chéroux, 2018, as cited in Miller, 2018).
Inspired by artists such as Eurène Atget and Walker Evans, the photographs replicate the vernacular through the documentation of a “photographic truth” (Wells, 2015, p. 20). The application of this truth as fact (Wells, 2015, pp. 16-17) cannot be defined singularly by the creator (Wells, 2015, p. 18). The history of photography, its social and cultural functions, aesthetics and relationship to other media (Wells, 2015, p. 44) all play pivotal roles in how meaning and identity is manufactured (Eklund, 2004).
As the amateurs developed the photo album to construct singular or collective narratives (Fineman, 2004), the evolution of the photobook (O’Hagan, 2018) illustrates how context can transform perspective.
Within the photobook, you must confront the imagery. You are required to take time to observe each page and physically move to the next. The sequence of images frames the personal relationship between the book and the reader. The presentation, order, scale all assist in shaping how the viewer interprets the presented reality. Does a rotten apple represent what it is? Or do we define this to mean something more? Are we drawn to conclusions of isolation, abandonment and decay? Hidden In The Everyday illustrates how technology, interpretation and context shape the way we see the world. Through the gaze of vernacular, the image represents the role that photography continues to play in our lives in imaging the everyday.
Eklund, D. (2004). The Pictures Generation. Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/pcgn/hd_pcgn.htm
Fineman, M. (2004). Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography. The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kodk/hd_kodk.htm
Martin, C. (2014). Australian vernacular photography. Art Gallery of New South Wales. https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/media-office/australian-vernacular-photography/
Miller, S. M. (2018). Walker Evans, Hero of the Vernacular Style. Aperture. https://aperture.org/editorial/walker-evans-hero-vernacular/
O’Hagan, S. (2018). What next for photography in the age of Instagram? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/oct/14/future-photography-in-the-age-of-instagram-essay-sean-o-hagan
Wells, L. (2015). Photography a critical introduction (5th ed.). Routledge.