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Amateur Photography and Movies

Richard Chalfen


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While the invention of the camera and advancement of →  Photography are best known in the contexts of the history of technology or the emergence of a new art form, cameras have been used for more than commercial concerns, scientific interests, or artistic work. From the earliest use of the camera and the emergence of consumer models of camera technology, nonprofessional photography has had an important parallel history. Ordinary people have taken their cameras home to produce the most frequent of all photographic imagery on a worldwide basis, namely the personal, nonprofessional production and use of personal pictures including snapshots, family albums, home movies, home video, and, more recently, family websites and even personal camera phone images. Amateurs have played a significant role in advancing the visual documentation of the everyday, of the private features of family life. Results have been highly valued in personal ways but far less so in commercial or scholarly contexts. Photographic and image scholarship has been relatively slow to respond in any serious or sustained way. Home-mediated amateur forms of imagery comprise the least studied and critically reviewed mode of pictorial communication within the mediascape of our contemporary symbolic environment. Some attention has been given to artistic approximations such as folk art or the snapshot aesthetic school, or ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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