Copyright © 2002, Photographic Resource Center, Inc.

Table of Contents
Artists in Contemporary Vernacular

Selected Vernacular Related Exhibitions
Snapshots & Found Photos
Preserving Vernacular Photos
Places to Find Vernacular Photos

Artists in Contemporary Vernacular

David Prifti
Personal Website:
Gallery NAGA:
Rice/Polak Gallery:

Susan E. Evans
Personal Website:

Louise Bourque
Personal Website:

Film Distributors
Canyon Cinema:
Microcinema International:

Joseph Heidecker
Ricco/Maresca Gallery:


Selected Vernacular Related Exhibitions

Close to Home: An American Album
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
October 12-January 16, 2005

From the website: “This exhibition is devoted to American family photographs that were separated from their owners and then rediscovered by artists, writers, collectors, and museum curators. Removed from their original context, these snapshots become open to many different interpretations: Who are the people in the photographs? What did these photos mean to them? Where are these people now? Not every snapshot is a masterpiece, but a photograph does not have to be a masterpiece to tell a story. Taken together, the photographs in this exhibition give us a visual record of life in 20th-century America.”

This catalogue is reviewed in the January/February 2005 PRC newsletter.

Create and Be Recognized: Photography on the Edge
Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA
Oct 23, 2004–Jan 9, 2005

From the website: Create and Be Recognized: Photography on the Edge, curated by independent curators Deborah Klochko, former director of The Friends of Photography at the Ansel Adams Center, and John Turner, a historian and scholar of outsider art, will be the first comprehensive survey of photo-based projects created by untrained visionaries. The works of approximately fifteen of these artists will be brought together to examine the motivations, methods and materials that allowed them to create work outside the scope of the mainstream art world. …Included are works by widely recognized as well as less known visionaries such as: Steve Ashby, Morton Bartlett, Eugene von Bruenchenhein, Charles August Alber Dellschau, Howard Finster, Lee Godie, William H. Hawkins, Alexandre Lobanov, C.T. McClusky, Joe "40.000" Murphy, Richard Shaver, Robert R. Wilkinson, Walla and Rotter.”

This catalogue is reviewed in the November/December 2004 PRC newsletter.

Picture Taken
Panopticon Gallery, Waltham, MA
November 18th - January 15th, 2005

An exhibition of anonymous snapshots curated by Clare Goldsmith.

Snapshot Chronicles: The Rise of The American Photo Album
Traveling Exhibition

From the website: “This exhibition, opening at Reed College in May 2005, will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Princeton Architectural Press and will travel. Through 40 exceptional examples from the private collection of co-curator Barbara Levine, this exhibition celebrates the under-recognized creative narratives and material artistry of early snapshot photograph albums.”

Adirondack Vernacular: The Photography of Henry M. Beach, 1905-1925
Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, NY
May-October 2004

From the website: “Presents the work of Henry M. Beech, an important and relatively unknown photographer, for the first time. … Beach (1863-1943) was one of the most prolific but least known photographers of his time. In fact, it is likely that Beach was not known outside of the Adirondack region, where he lived most of his life. He devoted his entire career to postcard photography, documenting Adirondack life and culture during a time of unprecedented change.….Viewers are encouraged to consider postcard images beyond their ephemeral nature and question their significance on multiple levels: as a passing trend in American popular culture as well as a valid art form with social, historical, and aesthetic merit.”

Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA
June 26 - September 12, 2003

From the website: “Babette Hines’ collection of photobooth portraits is a moving record of 75 years of self- photography. Photobooth is at once a rush of instant intimacy and a total immersion in the pleasures or vernacular photography. The people captured in the moment are diverse in age, ethnicity and manner. Their only link is that they entered a photo booth, put their money in, closed the curtain and tried not to blink when the flash popped. With no photographer present, these portraits are as candid as they come, capturing the charm and anonymity of the photo booth itself. The results are uninhibited, often goofy and occasionally touching….In 2002, Babbette Hines produced a book featuring seven hundred of her photo booth portraits. The Photobooth exhibition represents the first time her extensive collection has been on display for the public.”

Babette Hines’s website:

SNAPSHOT: An Exhibition of 1,000 Artists
Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD
November 2, 2000 - February 3, 2001

From the website: “Artists and arts professionals were invited to submit snapshots and to ask their colleagues to do the same, an invitation that expanded across the world with its own momentum. Every submitted photograph was accepted into the exhibition and individual participants were given permission to decide what was meant by the term "snapshot." The exhibition contains 1,000 photographs from twenty-four countries, including works by leading contemporary artists, commercial photographers, amateurs, art students, craft artists, critics, and artists working in all media with widely varied levels of experience and reputation.”

Other Pictures: Vernacular Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
June 6, 2000–August 27, 2000

From the website: “This selection of approximately 60 anonymous vernacular photographs from the 1920s to the 1960s teases the eye and delights the mind. Cut loose from their original context but infused with the aesthetic spirit of their time, these unintended and unexpected masterpieces often call to mind the work of master photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, László Moholy-Nagy, and Robert Frank. Drawn from the collection of Thomas Walther, these surprising images shed new light on one of the most prolific and eccentric artists of our century: ‘Photographer Unknown.’”


Snapshots & Found Photos Related Links

Found Magazine
The world famous zine and cultural phenomenon! Jason Bitner and Davy Rothbart are the co-founders of Found Magazine, a print and online journal of found photographs, notes, and stuff. Their work has been featured on NPR's This American Life, as well as covered in the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, SPIN magazine, Australian Style, and most recently Late Night with David Letterman. From their website: “we collect FOUND stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, telephone bills, doodles- anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life. anything goes...”

God Bless Americana
The website of Charles Phoenix, the self-described Kitsch-Culture, Archivist, Humorist, Author, and Histo-Tainer. He is the author of many books, including Southern Californialand: Mid-Century Culture in Kodachrome (2004) and God Bless Americana A Retro Vacation Slide Show Tour of the USA (2002)

Is This You?

Object Not Found
A beautifully presented collection of found photos, postcards, and writing.

Look At Me: A Collection of Found Photos
From the website: “These photos were either lost, forgotten, or thrown away. The images now are nameless, without connection to the people they show, or the photographer who took them.”

Photos Found in a Thrift Store Camera
From the website: “Images from a roll of Kodacolor 126 film, found inside an "Instamatic X-15" model camera purchased at Thrift Store City (Norfolk, VA) at the cost of 45¢. Matt Partridge bought the camera for me as a gift and didn't know that a roll of exposed film was inside, which made for a pleasant surprise upon opening.”

Found photos from a blogger’s personal collection.
See also her other sites:

From the website: “a collection of found photographs. found at fleamarkets, thriftshops, some are scooped up from streets and alleyways, fallen from an overstuffed bag or torn pocket….time tales does not want to reveal their mysteries. time tales asks to be the new home for lost photos, a resting place, for the nameless and the lost.”

Women and Dogs
A personal website of a woman in England who collects anonymous photographs of woman and their dogs.

Yahoo’s Subject Guide to Found Photos’s Guide to Found and Orphaned Photos


Preserving Vernacular Photos

Wilhelm Research
The “guru” on the subject; website has both digital and color film print permanence reports. Preserving Photos –
has easy-to-read info on preserving older photos, also links to other related topics within and throughout the internet

Northeast Document Center “Care of Photographs” Lesson
Part of an online course, PRESERVATION 101:An Internet Course on Paper Preservation. Amazing links and information! Located in Andover, MA, a physical center to which one can also bring one’s photographs for conservation.

Links to “Rescued Photos & Family Memorabilia”
A great list of links compiled on a personal website.

Caring for your Photos from the Photographic Materials Group, part of the American Institute for Conservation
A wonderful, extensive site for caring for photos, includes a downloadable PDF.

Library of Congress Guides
Preservation Basics
A National Cooperative Information Project, Leaflet Number 1, November 1991

Caring for Your Family Treasures
A guide for the layperson on caring for collections of papers, books and photographs.


Places to Find Vernacular Photos

American Photowork
A personal webstore

THE place to find vintage photos

Vernacular Links