Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Photography of Everyday Life

Yesterday I installed my teenager at the California State Summer School for the Arts, where he will be studying as a young visual artist for the next month at CalArts, the institution of higher education built by Walt Disney in Southern California to train the labor force for the animation industry.

The occasion was marked by several rites of passage, since admissions were competitive, and he will be living in a college dormitory for the first time, and at the end of the summer he will be designated a California Arts Scholar.

Strangely, I was the only one taking pictures, with the exception of a few students shooting arty stills of the landscape and built environment.

In contrast, just a few weeks ago, we were at the Hollywood Bowl, and everyone in the audience was taking pictures. What was the difference between the two scenarios? In one case photography was to function as an historical document that recorded a particular moment in family history. The gestures involved in leave-taking made taking pictures particularly difficult. In the other, people were taking pictures with a more proximate audience, those who used photo file-sharing or social networking sites, and it was low-stakes photography, which could be called "the photography of everyday life" in the digital era.

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Blogger Lupton said...

We recently saw our ten-year old off to her first sleep away camp, and we took pictures at the bus stop where she and other classmates were being picked up for their voyage into the mountains. I am a haphazard documentarian of rites of passage -- I would say that in general, I am LESS likely than other parents to have remembered the camera on days like these. This time I did, and I'm glad. I am very far from participating in that other form of quotidian photography that you describe -- and I'd certainly like to learn more. Or have the kids begin doing this.

6:28 AM  

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