Posted: October 11th, 2022

The Family Photograph Album Essay

Analysis and talk about the household photograph album. How and why is the household album used to assemble notions of identification?


Family picture albums have existed in many various kinds. Not solely as a private flick e-book documentation containing “the chronicles of a household’s personal story” (Fong, 2004, p.86) capturing particular moments and occasions of the previous; however the concept of documenting one’s previous by photos has been in existence since people roamed the earth. By means of pre-historic silhouettes of people painted on cave partitions; by the Renaissance the place portraiture was out there to these households who might afford it; to the purpose in historical past the place cameras have been out there to the novice mass public whereby pictures may very well be developed by any single particular person.

Right here moments may very well be captured at full ease in nice volumes and assembled into albums and handed all the way down to generations. However why the desperation to seize our identities in these freeze-frame moments that have been beforehand hours? What do these freeze-frames say about our households, our identities and ourselves? This paper will talk about these concepts and the way a photograph album is a selective and stylized documentation of our lives.

Theories of how the notice of others viewing one’s “personal story” might manipulate one’s private identification by cautious choice of chosen photos displayed within the picture album. How the picture album generates nostalgia and longing that transports the viewer from an unpredictable future to a previous that’s secure. And at last how the overwhelming help of the Web permits one’s picture album to be rendered digitally for a lot of others to view questioning that the picture album is just a slender imaginative and prescient of 1’s life and subsequently portraying a synthetic way of life.

Many generations of households have used the picture album to doc their lives and document proof of their existence. Regardless of our ever-changing life fashion we use pictures to seize these moments and emotions to convey our sense of identification. West “Susan Sontag argues that each one pictures aestheticize actuality as a result of the photographer selects what appears worthy of particular and lingering consideration to seize on movie.” (West 2000, pg.2) These ‘freeze frames’ not solely kind and form our historical past but additionally dictate what we seem like. After we have a look at pictures we aren’t solely wanting into the pigments that fill this body but additionally wanting again into reminiscences. Do we actually bear in mind the occasion, or is our reminiscence altered due to the prevailing proof that’s the medium of pictures?

Sometimes in on a regular basis life immediately we make snap judgments of people; from the place they arrive from, to the fashion of hair they’ve. Nonetheless the portraits of those strangers don’t present us with an correct description of their identities. Generally we think about what we’d seem like to others, and thus a constructed identification is created for the only goal of notion to those individuals.

Larry Sultan (1985) states “Pictures is there to assemble the concept of us as an incredible household and we go on holidays and take these photos after which we have a look at them later and we are saying, ‘Isn’t this an incredible household?” (Sultan, 1985) If this argument proves right then the images and frames which might be glued into our beloved household album ought to present us with questions such as- Have been we actually comfortable in that second in time?

Larry Sultan is an American photographer and produced a sequence of ‘Handmade’ photos of his mom and father in on a regular basis life round their house. Larry challenged himself by visualizing and creating conventional pictures of his dad and mom as an try to create a way of identification to a standard household picture album. Subsequently he (Sultan, L. 1992, pg. 109) supplied his mom and father with roles and “stage instructions” of motion and posture, all of which to his need. Larry Sultan (1992) argues the management of the picture by asking -“A query of the way you look and who determines that, who’s in command of the picture?” (Sultan 1992, pg.113).

In “Mother Posing for me” Sultan’s determine doesn’t seem in that scene of the body, dictating that he actually is the one in management. Whereas in most conventional household albums the principle focus revolves across the kids and the capturing of extraordinary moments of spontaneity that are then displayed as a memento of historical past. Sultan nonetheless is staging the pictures of his dad and mom. The photographer has a chance to create scenes on his phrases and painting to the viewer his notion of his guardian’s identification; consequently the accuracy of their identification has been faltered.

On this conventional ‘freeze body’ as viewers the primary function we discover is a timid, aged lady propped in opposition to the wall, displayed as if a possession corresponding to an object or an decoration. Although Sultans father has his again turned to the lens (hiding his identification) we really feel the sense of dominance, is he merely extra within the tv? Inside this specific captured body lets say that Sultan’s father is boastful and unwilling as a result of he doesn’t stand by who we presume is his spouse.

Then again because the viewer, can we see the lady standing alone to state her independence? Was this Sultan’s intention for the photograph? In 1980 America, girls made important accomplishments in financial and political domains for the chance to change into appreciated as equals to males. If that is so, we’re in a position to see this picture as a symbolic illustration of social collective conduct from Sultan’s mom once we kind personalities of the 2 individuals.

Wanting again into the historical past of our lives by the household picture album we relate the connection between the body and our life. Does it remind us of a loss within the household or remind us of whom we as soon as have been? We have a look at the photographs and assemble a way of belonging and happiness, however will the picture alter the unique reminiscence that we had as soon as created. Sultan (1985) acknowledged that “… pictures is instrumental in creating household not solely as a memento, a memento, but additionally a sort of mythology.” (Sultan)

Nostalgia is a sentimental eager for the previous, so once we have a look at these pictures can we discover a connection or disconnection from what we bear in mind? Photographer Susan Sontag states “As an alternative of simply recording actuality, pictures have change into the norm for the way in which issues seem to us, thereby altering the very concept of actuality and of realism.” (Sontag 1973: 87, pg.107).

She argues that although the picture is fastened and factual, our visions and reminiscences are indifferent from each other. Individuals current within the photograph can usually have completely different variations of that reminiscence compared to each other. If reminiscences might be altered on reflection of the picture album, then identities might be too. Comparability permits us to view our households and examine their identities to ours.

The picture album is constructed upon the premise of reminiscences and identities, not simply our personal, however we will undertake different individuals’s by flicking by this e-book of generations and appear to recall who’s who and create our personal identification by the notion of pictures. Nancy MarthaWest (2000) “If nostalgia does misrepresent the previous by imagining it extra secure than it was, it additionally makes the current bearable, usable and even triumphant” (West 2000, pg.11)

We make tales from these freeze frames which can not essentially be true however what we need to consider, constructing a way of stability by the photograph we’re . Like every e-book a narrator is required, that is the place we take place, creating, destructing and modifying pictures to assemble identities that we aspire to be or making a stylized actuality that we’d need. Nancy Martha West (2000) “It permits for a continuity that may ‘replenish ones sense of self’ even within the face of terror and loss.” (West 2000, pg.11) Nostalgia derived from the picture album permits us to really feel protected, give us our identities and lets the unpredictable future appear manageable.

In fashionable society we have now entry to Web Social Networking websites corresponding to Fb, Twitter or Instagram. The growth from the normal household picture album the place we rigorously place these frames right into a leather-based sure e-book has blossomed onto the World Vast Internet the place hundreds of thousands of individuals can acquire entry to our private lives and our identities. Making a false identification by a standard picture album is now doable to view on an accessible mass scale which means that the constructed identification appears extra profitable. It’s because many individuals view and consider what they understand and thus need what they suppose this individual has, or who they suppose this individual is. Do we alter our identification on these websites to change into who we yearn to be in the true world?

The distinction of the digital and bodily world has huge variations however what they’ve in frequent is that judgments are nonetheless made of each other by our each day lives. We touch upon clothes, ethnicity, occupation, using our physique language and many others. The web alternatively offers us alternative to take order of our lives, to regulate feedback, demand listeners and readers, write statuses, publish photos, and subsequently create an identification of how we need to be represented by these modernized picture albums. (Hamburger, E. (2012) Fb revamps privateness settings and Exercise Log, now enables you to untag photographs en masse [Online] Out there: [22 December 2012])

It’s obvious to see on these digital net areas that many individuals are involved to how they symbolize themselves by privateness settings – sifting by the ‘unhealthy’ photos of themselves and permitting different photos to be proven by their profile web page. Margaret Cooper (2010) “The commonest purpose for females to untag a photograph was displeasure with their look within the picture (88.88% of females who untagged photographs), indicating how they regarded was an essential a part of their self-presentation to others.” (Cooper 2010, pg.103) That is parallel to how we choose which photos are to be displayed within the conventional picture album; subsequently the picture album is stylized artificiality in relation to our identification.


Plainly the necessity to seize our identities not solely serves the aim to retailer reminiscences of the household’s heritage however has change into an album to convey a stylized actuality of our identities. Nostalgia and the necessity to mirror on photos permits us to really feel protected inside these identities. The growth of expertise has damaged the seal of the normal approach of portraying the household picture album. The proven fact that we are actually in a position to view others’ ‘personal story’ over the web and the way we manipulate and choose particular person pictures of one another signifies a brand new era for the household picture album.

There’s now a ‘constructing block’ and alternative to create our personal identities and reminiscences by this cultural situation. Nonetheless it’s nonetheless a reoccurring debate whether or not or not we lose our sense of identification by manipulating and modifying the photographs we selected to point out to the world by way of the web or inside the household picture album. Nonetheless this custom exists to this very day and has been in existence for many years by the type of pictures. It deniably permits our personal lives of our picture album to be rendered for a lot of others to view questioning the notion of a synthetic way of life the place the picture album is just a slender imaginative and prescient of 1’s life.


Cooper, M (2010), Lgbt Identification and On-line New Media pg.103

Fong, M. & Chuang, R.(2004), Speaking ethnic and cultural identification, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., United States of America.

Hamburger, E. (2012) Fb revamps privateness settings and Exercise Log, now enables you to untag photographs en masse [Online] Out there: [22 December 2012]

Sultan, L. (1992), Footage From House pg. 109

Sultan, L. (1985), Genius of Pictures, [Online] Out there from: [Accessed 23rd December 2012]

Sultan, L. (1985, Genius of Pictures, [Online] Out there from: [Accessed 23rd December 2012]

Sultan, L. (1992), Footage From House pg. 109

Sontag, S (1973: 87) The Methodological Dilemma: Inventive, essential and collaborative approaches to qualitative analysis pg.107

West, N. (2000) Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia pg.11

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