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From snapshots to social commodities: The rise of the shutterbug
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From snapshots to social commodities: The rise of the shutterbug


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  • Today, cameras and photos fill practically every nook of our lives It’s hard to imagine a wedding or graduation without photographs to encapsulate those experiences Personal photography and its role in society (not fine art, not science of technology) Unpack: 1. how that all started 2. how is it being used
  • Photography was originally a professional industry – required specialized skills, training, investment of time/money There were 2 major innovators that opened up photography to the masses and consciously kickstarted consumer industry through clever marketing
  • The first was George Eastman, founder of Kodak. Launched Kodak’s first camera in 1888 Famous advertising jingle – simplified everything: pre-loaded film, simple shutter, easy film processing/printing 1900 launched the Brownie, sold for $1 (~$22 today)
  • Second major innovator was Edwin Land 1948 introduced the first polaroid camera Sparked an industry based on instant gratification > continue to see this
  • These technological evolutions led to changes in the subject matter Fine art, science, studio portraits > personal photos focused on the family, domestic world, rites of passage And even at this early stage – formation and editing of identity and relations
  • Rise of scrapbook and photo album Closely tied to memory, culture, early version of facebook Essential part of the family unit (history, genealogy), teens (make intangible tangible), courtship, friendships Bible and photo album
  • 1990 – first commercially available digital camera Rise of facebook and Twitter Made viewing & sharing of photos nearly immediate
  • Scope and scale is staggering Forrester predicts – 97 million U.S. households will own camera phones in 2 years Current largest camera manufacturer isn’t Canon or Nikon, it’s Nokia – because it’s the largest cell manuracturer Facebook – 400 million active users and stores 20 billion photos Upload 3 billion photos/month
  • So what’s the impact on photos? Accessibility > Sharing an experience in real time, effervescent moments Impact on the value of photos? Camera is extended into new places, situations, relations
  • Direct and indirect representation of self through photos and social networking sites Platform where we learn about ourselves and experiment And also a tool to learn about others and stay connected (shift away from family unit > self, friends) Visually show our connections, our experiences AND social status (proof of experiences, places traveled, number of friends)
  • Tagging, comments/discussion points Networks and photography will become increasingly interwoven Greater collaboration (montages, photosynth) Improvements to mobile > experiential photography Increased mediation of our identities Social commodities Need ways to stay in touch with those we care the most about and search for those we want to find out info about
  • Transcript

    • 1. From snapshots to social commodities: The rise of the shutterbug
    • 2. Roots of amateur photography
    • 3. “ You press the button , we do the rest”
    • 4. Instant gratification
    • 5. Memory, family, identity
    • 6. Early sharing
    • 7. Redefining instant
    • 8. Numbers 97 million 20 billion 3 billion 400 million
    • 9. The moment
    • 10. Presentation of self
    • 11. Photos as social hubs
    • 12. Thank you! Erika Takeuchi MCDM, COM 546
    • 13.
      • Today I gave a homeless person a candy cane [photo], uploaded by user atmosphere, control on November 26, 2008. Retrieved from flickr:
      • Evolution of photography, retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • George Eastman [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Edwin Land [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Polaroid of Life magazine [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Early photo album [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Hildreth scrapbook [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from: E
      • Peaches scrapbook [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Christmas scrapbook [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Family portrait [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Polaroid of little girl [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Digital cameras [photo], retrieved on February 26, 2010 from:
      • Pete Yorn: Live at The Roxy [photo], uploaded on June 25, 2009 by user nicadlr. Retrieved from flickr:
      • Facebook Halloween costume [photo], courtesy of Melissa Lau.
      • Alley Jump….take 10 [Photo], Uploaded on May 11, 2009 by user *Cinammon. Retrieved from Flickr: