The Other Photography – Getting Ready

I’ve been working on my photography exhibit for Heather Law’s session at TAG 2011, Opening Dialogs in Archaeological Photography off and on for a couple of weeks now, and I have to say, it’s a lot more rewarding than writing a conference paper. But, like a conference paper, it hasn’t gone exactly as expected when I wrote the abstract back in December. At that time I thought I’d be digging in Qatar, whereas I mostly conducted a large, lonely survey.

The photographs are a mix of shots taken with the Hipstamatic application for iPhone and cell phone photos that were edited entirely within the phone, usually with Plastic Bullet or Best Camera. I have the Hipstamatic photos already–they’re speedy, cheap and they look fantastic. I ordered the other photos from a local photo lab that has printed photos for me in the past.

Keeping with the theme of my presentation – Nostalgic, Personal, Neglected –  I was going to use vintage cardboard photo studio portrait frames. Sadly, the photos didn’t fit all that well inside of them and I think they would have been awkward to display anyway. So I decided to use a vintage photo album. I particularly liked the look and aesthetic that came with the 70s sticky-film albums and I found an appropriately destroyed example in a local reuse center, Urban Ore.

There were some photos in the album already–a young couple and their baby in 1975 & 76. It felt a little strange to remove them from the pages to replace them with my arty archaeology photos. A little strange, and a little cynical. In the very back pocket of the album I found a little sheet with gold foil letters so I was able to title the photo album, which pleased me.

Overall, I think presenting the photos in this way is more meaningful than hanging the photos on the wall. Personal photos in archaeology are often sidelined, stashed away, not part of the archive–lost and only occasionally recovered and treasured. How many people will bother to pick up the book and peruse? I’m not sure.

I’m pretty happy with the result and will have more photos of the final product after the show.

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

5 thoughts on “The Other Photography – Getting Ready”

  1. I think the idea of the personal photos in incredibly important for archaeology. As the older generation is retiring and going away we, the younger generations, can look at the way they lived many decades ago. I work with a professor scanning his negatives from the late 60’s, early 70’s and one of our favorite images to find is the distinguished archeologists of today in typical 70’s clothing. There will be pictures of them at bars and in some ways that tells us as much about people as any kind of archaeology.

  2. Your photo exhibit/album sounds beautiful! And such a poetic story with the album.

    I love how your two ideas fit so well together, The Other Photography set up in a photo album. That is just perfect, but of course you knew that!

    I can’t wait to see more photos of the final product.

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