The holy shrine

Posted in Books, Bourdieu, History of Photography, Media, Photography, Theory of Photography by Rollfilm on April 13, 2007

“In 1965 the group surrounding the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu identified the [photogaphic] documentation of family rituals as the ritual confirmation of the institution of the family itself, emphasizing the social function of taking photographs.” [1]

The occasions for family-photography are evolving out of its function. Photography in the family circle has to record the “good times” and special moments of a family’s biography. These are mainly weddings, birthdays, holiday trips, the kids, christmas and other parties.

The ‘classical’ way of collecting these douments was to put the family-photographs into an album. This album was limited in its public range. The access to it was strictly regulated. One needed to be an insider, an accepted member of the family itself or the close circle surrounding the family to be allowed to gaze at the family’s ‘holy shrine’.


Today things are different:


  • 3.306.789 photographs tagged with wedding


  • 2.141.630 photographs tagged with family


  • 1.569.381 photographs tagged with birthday


  • 1.441.387 photographs tagged with christmas


  • 1.039.372 photographs tagged with holiday


  • 888.364 photographs tagged with baby

The ‘holy shrine’ is now public.


[1] Kathrin Peters: Instant Images: The Recording, Distribution and Consumption of Reality Predestined by Digital Photography [link]


2 Responses

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  1. Susanna said, on April 16, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    I suppose this puts the concept (suffering?) of sitting down with people and looking at the recent photo albums/slide shows of holiday/party/wedding photos into a new context, too. And who said flickr was evil? 😉

  2. Suzan said, on April 22, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Ah, I’ve written a paper about this vernacular photography, very interesting subject I think.
    That’s why the photos of for example Ed van der Elsken were/are so groundbreaking and popular, he didn’t only show the reoccuring events, but also recorded fights and upset kids. Fascinating stuff, only enhancing the feel of voyeurism!

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