In Search of Snapshot Aesthetics
By John Linton
6 Nov 2013
The term arose from the fascination of artists with the 'classic' black & white vernacular snapshot, the characteristics of which were: 1) they were made with a hand-held camera on which the viewfinder could not easily 'see' the edges of the frame, unlike modern cheap digital cameras with electronic viewfinder, and so the subject had to be centered; and 2) they were made by ordinary people recording the ceremonies of their lives and the places that they lived and visited.
An early theorist of snapshot aesthetic was the Austrian architectural critic, Joseph August Lux, who in 1908 wrote a book called Künsterlische Kodakgeheimnisse (Artistic Secrets of the Kodak) in which he championed the use of Kodak cameras like the Brownie. Guided by a position that was influenced by the Catholic critique of modernity, he argued that the ease of use of the camera meant that people could photograph and document their surroundings and thus produce, what he hoped, was a type of stability in the ebb and flow of the modern world.