PRC home

IntroductionThe Next 30 YearsEssayEducation and EventsYour PredictionsPRC | POV | FLICKR
The Next 30 Years of Photography
previous     next     The Next 30 Years - home
Vernacular Image purchased on eBay Inc. Courtesy of Rodger Kingston.

IMAGE CREDIT: Vernacular Image purchased on eBay Inc. Courtesy of Rodger Kingston.

eBay Inc.,The World's Online Marketplace® 
(Created in 1995; Based in San Jose, CA)
Nominated by Rodger Kingston

Pierre Omidyar created eBay (originally called Auction Web) in his living room in September 1995 as a social and economic experiment. Three years later, Omidyar along with Jeff Skoll, brought in Megan Whitman, a Harvard-trained businesswoman, to run the company. With a background in Fortune 500 companies, Whitman continues Omidyar's original philosophy: connecting strangers with shared interests. eBay's system is based on trust: bidders and buyers can leave "feedback" on their experience, transactions, and items. Omidyar graduated from Tufts University (Medford, MA) in 1988 with a BS in computer science, and is currently a Trustee of the university.

Today, over 200 million users worldwide utilize eBay's services, a population larger than most countries. For buying and selling photographic equipment and collecting photographica, eBay has been especially revolutionary. Vernacular photography in particular, including snapshots and everyday images, has blossomed via the Internet and now has emerged as an important scholarly topic. Today, vernacular photography is collected in prestigious museums and is the subject of important exhibitions, conferences, and scholarship.


"My name is Rodger Kingston, rpkphoto to those of you I have had dealings with on eBay...Early on I discovered that I particularly liked images by other-than-famous photographers, and so for nearly 30 years I have exclusively collected what I've come to call "Forgotten Photographs." Because my collection has none of the famous images that show up over and over in most collections, it is almost entirely fresh and unseen, and almost always a big surprise to anyone who sees it.

eBay and the internet have been of immeasurable help to me in building my collection and in researching and acquiring Walker Evans materials. I've found things on eBay in days that I'd been looking for in the brick-and-mortar world for many years, as well as treasures I can't imagine having found anywhere else."

—excerpted from Rodger Kingston's online eBay profile

Rodger Kingston

(Born 1941, Seattle, WA; Lives in Belmont, MA)

A member of the PRC's Board of Directors since 2000, Kingston started building his collection of over 4,000 vernacular photographs and photo-related objects in the 1970s. Since the advent of eBay, his collection has grown exponentially and has been featured in two exhibitions at the PRC, and in the 2004 Boston University Art Gallery's exhibition In the Vernacular: Everyday Photographs from the Rodger Kingston Collection.

In 1975, Kingston opened the Photographic Eye Inc., a gallery and bookstore in Harvard Square and later earned his EdM in education from Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). His own documentary and fine art work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Gallery of American Art (Washington, DC), Harvard's Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA), Saatchi and Saatchi (worldwide), and many others. Kingston, a Walker Evans scholar, has published Walker Evans in Print: An Illustrated Bibliography (1995). His 1998 exhibition, Fifty Years on the Mangrove Coast: Photographs by Walker Evans and Rodger Kingston, traveled for two years.

The Photographic Resource Center (PRC) at Boston University

Mission Statement
The Photographic Resource Center (PRC) at Boston University is an independent non-profit organization that serves as a vital forum for the exploration and interpretation of new work, ideas, and methods in photography and related media. The PRC presents exhibitions, fosters education, develops resources, and facilitates community interaction for local, regional, and national audiences.