Beyond Intimacy: The Radical Conventions of Family Photography




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Peer reviewed


Drawing upon my talk at the Photographers’ Gallery – “… And I will Live Forever” (18 Sept. 2012) – this talk expanded my investigation into the practice of family photography and its interrelationship with politics and the social domain. I questioned the political agency family photographs may contain within and beyond the narratives of family life and the domestic sphere. I looked into the visual formation and manifestation of cultural and social difference within the domestic environment, and the role family photographs play in the creation of knowledge, familiarity with the Other, and the enhancement of one’s social status. Addressing some visual examples taken from popular culture as well as from less conventional sources, the talk engaged with the fragmentary histories of family photographs, and aimed to challenge the commonly naive perception of this vernacular genre. A close attention was paid to advertising campaigns for point-and-shoot cameras, and the modes of photographic production they tend to propagate. By exposing family photographs as inherently connected to state and social politics, I expanded the current understanding of family photography and laid the groundwork for further studies of its potentially radical and subversive properties.


I delivered this talk at Musée Nicephore Niepce, Chalon sur Saône, France


Family photography, Domestic photographs, Point-and-shoot cameras, Visual politics, Photography and family life, Photography and social politics, Social subversion, Photographic historiography


Pasternak, G. (2012) Beyond Intimacy: The Radical Conventions of Family Photography.


Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Institute of Art and Design