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.

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