Unidentified Photos

You might not realize that there’s a growing number of people who collect old photographs and transparencies. It only takes a quick look on eBay to see how many of these collections are up for sale, and the prices that people have paid for them. The photos are often of people and places that are unidentified, and most often unidentifiable. That doesn’t seem to matter.

Vernacular photography is what most academics and curators have come to call this classification of art. While you might find an exhibit mounted somewhere in the United States, its popularity has not yet left our shores. There is no single agreed-upon definition for vernacular photography, but most experts involved in the arts agree that it could span many types of everyday picture taking. For a more thorough discussion on the subject of vernacular photography, see the details on Wikipedia.

I’m fascinated by all of this attention to vernacular photography. With my interest in historic preservation, I think that it’s a good thing that these old photos are getting the respect they deserve, even if the story behind each photo has long since been forgotten. Not to be morbid about all this, but if you’ve had your picture taken at all during your lifetime, someday those photos may end up being all that remains of who you were on this earth, even if no one knows your name.

Happy Halloween!

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