(A MacIntyre family Kodak moment circa 1994)
Real people are interesting and have a story to tell.
If you look at your family album you’re bound to find one: a picture of the family taken on a throwaway Kodak with film. The photograph conveys a story of stretched posed smiles on faces waiting in anticipation of the click of the camera capturing that moment in time forever.
A row of smiles except for the cross looking face in the corner (a forbidden second helping of ice cream or the result of sibling rivalry).
That was then. This is now.
In the modern world pictures are everywhere and capture every occasion. From special events such as holidays, birthdays and weddings to capturing the everyday (the outfit you’re going to wear to work, uploading an image of your morning coffee). These images are captured on digital devices, uploaded to the internet and shared.
If it’s not picture perfect, you can press delete.
The question: do these real moments in pictures even exist any longer? And if they don’t, what are we missing by losing them?
This led me to think about one of my favourite American photographers Diane Arbus. When she was living and working in New York in the 1960s, Arbus captured real people’s lives and how they were affected by cultural and political change.
A family portrait taken by Arbus at first glance reveals nothing.
Dig a little deeper and the smiles, the poses, the elaborate hairstyles are all a reflection of the family’s personal story. Arbus has not only captured this family’s story, but the story of millions of Americans at that time. The photograph gives us an invaluable insight into the fashion, the socioeconomics and the general mood of the era. It’s imbued with a resonance and a long lasting appeal that would never have survived had the image been posed and retouched to today’s standards.