Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored


With increasingly accessible camera technology, crowdsourced public media projects abound like never before. These projects often seek to secure a snapshot of a single day as a means to create a global community and as a visual time capsule for an unspecified future. Mass Photography assesses the potential of these popular moment-in-time projects by examining their historical predecessors. Through close engagement with the vast photographic collections resulting from such ventures, the book analyses their structures and systems, their aims and objectives, and their claims and promises. With a central case study of the 55,000 photographs submitted to One Day for Life in 1987 - which aimed, in its own time, to be ‘the biggest photographic event the world had ever seen' - the book provides historical context for the emergence of these seemingly new projects, enriched with material generated through interviews with hundreds of participants, organisers, judges, publishers and archivists. Mass Photography examines the particular cultural role that amateur photography offers, demonstrating how it has come to be embraced as a privileged authentic form, capable of communicating identity, capturing history and touching places that other images cannot reach. It also reveals previously uncharted histories of participatory media and user-generated content, thus challenging networked digital photography's seemingly unique and unparalleled capacity and potential. As the first full examination of these ambitious photographic phenomena, Mass Photography makes a valuable contribution to photographic history and theory by taking a fresh look at amateur practice on an unprecedented scale.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUK
Number of pages288
ISBN (Print)9781784530112
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2015

Publication series

NameInternational Library of Visual Culture


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