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Vernacular The term "vernacular" literally means "of the commonplace."
In photography collecting, it refers to photographs which were made without artistic intent. This includes commercial photographs, personal snapshots and albums, historical images, scientific photographs, etc. Many collectors find vernacular images interesting, both for subject matter and for the occasional image that has an aesthetic appeal, albeit unintentional.
Found images are those which are selected from the photographic memories of others. These are snapshots of holidays, friends and family events which are stored in shoe boxes and albums - within these millions of images there are occasional gems that catch the eye because of a oddity of subject, camera angle or just because of their very banality. The Magnum photojournalist, Martin Parr, has produced books of these banal shots, with the seemingly accurate titles Boring Postcards and Boring Postcards USA. Images that were once regarded as insignificant are becoming indicative of an age and increasingly accepted as a part of the mainstream of the history of photography. An example of this was the 1998 exhibition "Snapshots: The Photography of Everyday Life" at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The definition of what should be included in the vernacular generally excludes photographs by known makers and especially where they were taken with an artistic intent. For this exhibition we have taken a broader approach to show the variety of lesser known images that can be found.
[With contributions by Robert Tat and Alan Griffiths]