Family Photography as a phatic construction

Patricia Prieto Blanco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When the camera became a domestic consumer good, photography was adapted to the needs of private production and reception (Slater, 1991: 50). The family archive contains images of selfportrayal, whose form is oriented towards established patterns, like cartes-de-visite, since they are received privately as well as in a quasi-public area (wallet, desk in an office etc.). Family photography gains its performative character by means of its phatic function (Malinowski, 1923/1949: 315-7), inscribed in a historical and socio-cultural frame (Hirsch, M. 1997: 10-2). It actuates in the border between naivety and formality, and these Memory-Pictures (Keppler, 1994: 187) create an impression of reliability and authenticity by their ritualized reception. The storage in a family archive and the perfomativity of its reception oscillate between the paradigm of scripture and the regime of narration (Langford, 2006: 227). The characterization of the media category ‘family photography’ by means of the phatic function of communication, and the identification of suitable tools for the analysis, are the topics of this article.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalNetworking Knowledge
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2010


  • Photography
  • Phatic
  • Family Photography


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