Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DEFINITION: Vernacular Photography

Vernacular photography refers to the creation of photographs by amateur or unknown photographers who take everyday life and common things as subjects. Though the more commonly known definition of the word vernacular is a quality of being "indigenous" or "native", the use of the word in relation to art and architecture refers more to the meaning of the following sub-definition (of vernacular architecture) from The Oxford English Dictionary: "concerned with ordinary domestic and functional buildings rather than the essentially monumental". Examples of vernacular photographs include travel and vacation photos, family snapshots, photos of friends, class portraits, identification photographs, and photobooth images. Vernacular photographs are types of "accidental" art, in that they often are unintentionally artistic.

Closely related to vernacular photography is "found photography," which in one sense refers to the recovery of a "lost," unclaimed, or discarded vernacular photograph or snapshot. Found photos can be found at flea markets, thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, in dumpsters and trash cans, between the pages of books, or on sidewalks.

The use of vernacular photography in the arts is almost as old as photography itself. Vernacular photography has become far more commonplace in recent years as an art technique and is now a widely accepted genre of art photography.

Vernacular photographs also have become popular with art collectors and with collectors of found photographs.

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