Wednesday, September 28, 2011


These snaps have been selected for their resemblance to the work of actual, specific art photographers. The first House of Mirth reader to correctly (or plausibly) identify all 14 phake photographers will receive $10.00 credit with out.of.frame, my eBay avatar.

There are snapshot people who began buying snapshots as a way of getting cheap “equivalents” of the name art photography they couldn’t afford, and I’m sure there are people who still do it for the same reason.

I am in neither camp. I’ve never thought of snapshots as a poor man’s art photography. Nevertheless, everything I know about photography is talking to me when I look at snapshots and when I buy snapshots. I buy snapshots that remind me of other kinds of photos, snapshots that sort of remind me of art photos, and snapshots that remind me of specific art photos and photographers (along with plenty of snapshots that don’t remind me of much of anything).

I bought these, but I must tell you I am not proud of it. The snapshot pool is so gigantic and so varied that we really don’t need to copy existing photographers. The pool also contains “equivalents” of any number of other photographers, just as good, who could exist, but don’t. The collector’s question should be: Which of them can I copy?

To be fair to myself: when I buy found photos that remind me of the work of specific photographers, I suppose I am responding to the sheer accident of their existence, which is of course a large part of what foundness is all about. Most or all of what I buy owes its existence to one kind of accident or another.

Perhaps needless to say, the commonest “equivalents” are the ones that correspond to the photographers who learned the most from snapshot photography in the first place. “Diane Arbus” probably crops up the most often, because Arbus’s compositions are usually simple and frontal, very like the most common snapshot composition.

Joel Rotenberg
out.of.frame on ebay

Added by Joel:  The photographers I had in mind will be announced in a week. The contestant who comes closest will win the prize. P.S.: To eliminate excessive subjectivity, all these judgments were discussed in my house. I used only examples that by consensus were pretty clear.

Please guess here or on my facebook wall under this post (Stacy Waldman) 

Don't forget to submit a favorite Halloween photo.  Deadline is October 9th.