Objects of Denigration and Desire: Taking the Amateur Photographer Seriously

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The study of amateur photography presents a distinctive methodological challenge to photographic studies. For too long considered as a sub-category of photography or even as a photographic genre – when not ignored entirely in canonical histories - amateur photography has nonetheless represented, for over a hundred years, the single largest area of photographic practice. Too broad to see as a whole, and notoriously slippery to categorise, a range of adjectives from snapshot to vernacular have attempted to pin down this vast and heterogeneous domain across a range of disciplinary frames. Through an in-depth analysis of photographic hierarchies across a range of periods and places, with a specific focus on the culture and practice of the ‘serious amateur’, this chapter argues that, as the focus for both cultural dismissal and desire, amateur photography offers the prime site for ascertaining the moral values and social expectations made of the medium.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Photography Studies
EditorsGil Pasternak
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9781474242202
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2020


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