At Photoville this year, you’ll find me and a team of pen-pushers in a container amassing The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs a crowdsourced archive of images and stories. We need your help and we need your submissions.
What is The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs?
The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs (TDOUP) is a few things: part social engagement, part fun, part an investigation of quality but mostly an opportunity to share our thoughts on how and what we think about our own photographs.
My explanation lifted straight from the The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs sparkly website of why I have conceived of TDOUP:
When asked to pick out a single image they absolutely treasure, people generally don’t hesitate. A snap of their children, a Polaroid of their parents, a formal pose from precious life event, or perhaps even a photograph with the prescribed artistic balance of composition, contrast and exposure. Whether the choice is dictated by emotional memory or technical concerns, the question “What is your best photo?” is not an unusual one.
But what about the question, “What is your worst photo?” To put it another way, what photograph of yours is obsolete, worthless, old news or just plain bad? Which single photograph of yours would you like to officially state on the record as unwanted?
During Photoville, submissions will be rotated in and out of display for public viewing. When the festival ends, the Photoville team will compile the images and create a reference book of “Unwanted Photographs”. The debate about what is good and bad in photography is as old as the medium itself, but what are the debate’s current touchstones? If we’re looking for good photography, we’ll find plenty of suitors in photobooks, galleries and publication, but where do we find a legitimate and well-researched presentation of bad photography? Does our discussion of what is good not also rely on a shared knowledge of what is bad, unwanted and unloved? Images do not exist in a vacuum, but emerge from contexts and histories. We think that your photos and stories are as relevant as the stories in news-photo exclusives and famous documentary images — your stories are central to discussions about how we consume and use photography. Therefore, we ask that each submitted image is accompanied by 50+ words on why it is not wanted by you, and not needed in the world.
We create and circulate millions of images every week. Many of these never exist beyond digital formats; stuck in our phones or transferred to computers on their way to social media sites. We are constantly employing choices, consciously and subconsciously, to share or overlook images. If we accept the mantra that ‘we are all photographers’ then aren’t we all photo-editors too?
There might be many of your images that you could trash, but by asking you to choose only one, we hope you’ll take the opportunity to think about the proliferation of images in society and your relationship to the ever-increasing number. Photoville will officially recognize your image as Unwanted with a numbered certificate and unique catalogue code. One-by-one, as the images interrelate and build the Depository, new meanings will emerge. The arbitrary definitions brought to the project by you the public will amount to a unique view. The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs is an unpredictable interrogation of quality that crucially is made by the public, not by the dominant voices of those in the media or culture industries.
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR UNWANTED PHOTOGRAPH
During Photoville, you may make walk-in submissions at the TDOUP container which will be equipped with a scanner and computer to download, copy and catalogue your printed photographs and digital files.
For those of you who are unable to attend the event:
– Download the form (PDF)
– Attach a photograph and fill out the form
– Return the form for processing. You may either:
A. Scan the form and email it to email@example.com
B. Place it in an envelope and mail it to 111 Front Street, Suite 204 – Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
SHARING IS GOOD: #TDOUP
Please share the project and the www.unwantedphotographs.org URL far and wide. Please send us your jpeg and share your story.
Please use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hashtag your thoughts, observations and photos. We are #TDOUP
See you in NYC on Thursday!