The History of the future will be told from the perspective of the everyday life of today. – Paula Amad, University of Iowa
I’ve always been fascinated with the past. From my parents’ stories of their lives in their youth, to the faded LIFE magazines that I occasionally purchase from eBay, there’s something about the lives of people who have since aged or passed that I find almost irresistible. Perhaps because there has been very little photographic record of my family’s history, I am particularly enamored of photos that depict the everyday lives of people – from vintage ads, to old brands, and even pictures of signboards – all these things are beautiful to my eyes.
On the flip-side, as a photographer, I often instinctively try to avoid things that can serve to ‘date’ a picture. Perhaps it is the wish to capture something timeless and eternal, some essence that falls outside the time continuum. An idealized photograph of an idea, manifested in a two-dimensional image. I almost never take pictures of things with brands. In fact, I often think about (and occasionally realize) removing labels just to make the pictures more generic. This may have something to do with something I read on a stock photography website when I first started taking photographs – that any photos with obvious brands will not be acceptable. I haven’t uploaded anything on any stock photography website; nor am I interested in stock photography, but perhaps somehow, subconsciously, I have been conditioned to think “Brands = Bad”.
Which they aren’t. I recently noticed how much I loved looking at the different brands in vintage photographs. Granted, the labels of the past may not have the sleek presentation of modern brands, but they have a simple beauty that is almost quaint. Which is much more than we can say of any modern branding/advertising campaign. Perhaps I was afraid that the inclusion of brands will make my pictures mundane. But I’m going to ignore that instinct henceforth. After all, what is life, if not the mundane? Here’s to more mundanity!