The least influential images of all time
December 8, 2016 12:53 PM   Subscribe

These 100 photographs did not change the world and had no influence whatsoever (unlike these ones), but we should be thankful for their existence anyway. Includes hamsters, Sarah Bernhardt's foot (and dog), lovers, a large balloon, a kangaroo, some clouds and various types of human beings. (short article about this collection, in French)
posted by elgilito (36 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
I WILL BUY ONE OF THE PUPS IN THE WHEELBARROW!
posted by Grandysaur at 1:00 PM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh Edmund Scientific Catalog, I see what you did there.
posted by lagomorphius at 1:00 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


The least influential images of all time

No longer true.
posted by mazola at 1:03 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


No longer true.

This is like that "there are no non-interesting positive integers" thing.
posted by kmz at 1:11 PM on December 8, 2016 [7 favorites]


SweaterPoodle welcomes me to the Christmas party. Hello!
posted by theatro at 1:17 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


This was as fun as looking through your grandmother's desk drawers.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:18 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is what's happened to me every time I've accidentally found myself on a beach:

1) UGH SUN
2) UGH SAND
3) MISTAKE MISTAKE MISTAKE
4) .................
posted by phunniemee at 1:21 PM on December 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Children with birdhouses was a particular highlight, as was "someone being on the toilet was also funny sixty years ago". And the lady who's biting someone's leg for some reason.
posted by terretu at 1:48 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I love digging through piles of loose photos in antique shops, and I often come home with several. My favorite, which I think is a total masterpiece.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:53 PM on December 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


If you look in the upper left of the birdhouse photo, you'll find the patron saint of everyone who has not yet completed their birdhouse.
posted by MrVisible at 2:00 PM on December 8, 2016 [28 favorites]


Holy crap, a Rover!
posted by rlk at 2:05 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I scrolled through the whole thing. Some unrecognizable sit-com music is playing in my head now.

A few of these are examples of one of the very few cardinal rules of photography: Don't take pictures of people's backs.

Otherwise... roll opening credits, let's get this done...
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:06 PM on December 8, 2016


Any one of those could be a cover to a Jandek album.
posted by AJaffe at 2:17 PM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I do too, mudpuppie!

Although it's a studio photo and therefore a little staged, this one might be my favorite. I only have a few because I'm picky.
posted by PussKillian at 2:40 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love digging through piles of loose photos in antique shops, and I often come home with several. My favorite, which I think is a total masterpiece.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:53 PM on December 8 [2 favorites +] [!]


OMG that's awesome -- is it Jeff Sessions?
posted by janey47 at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I loved the placement of the photos. There's a very very subtle pattern. Not, I think, overarching, but two or three photos in a row will have some kind of subliminal relationship...
posted by janey47 at 2:52 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


How can we call photography an art, when even an accidental collection like this pleases, surprises and challenges as much, if not more so, than the most carefully curated show by the acknowledged masters? It's all here: Cartier-Bresson, Weston, Adams, Lange, Arbus ...
posted by Modest House at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2016


It's the Internet K-Hole without the bush.
posted by zzazazz at 4:07 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure these are all G!YBE and Belle & Sebastian album covers.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:07 PM on December 8, 2016


I'm pretty sure the snake that guy was holding was a rattler, in which case, badass!

Lots of pictures of women lying down.
posted by suelac at 6:28 PM on December 8, 2016


Not true - this pointless cat picture was a great influence on countless internet pictures to come after. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:21 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Ce site utilise des cookies"
posted by Going To Maine at 7:25 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]



Not true - this pointless cat picture was a great influence on countless internet pictures to come after. We stand on the shoulders of giants.


FOCUS
posted by Existential Dread at 7:33 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Now this is history.

Love the Googie curtains in #3.
posted by bryon at 9:00 PM on December 8, 2016


They are all very well composed photographs, intentionally or not.

The one of the two girls wrapped in the rug by the lake looks familiar.
posted by Thella at 10:35 PM on December 8, 2016


I find these just incredible, every single one.

We don't really take pictures of casual and spontaneous intimate moments in time/place like these anymore.
posted by wats at 10:57 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, I'm in love with the curtains and the metal Christmas trees in #3. So many of the images are mysterious and/or potentially kinky. The woman biting the man's leg. What's up with the blindfolded babe wearing a glove on her right hand while examining a stocking with her left hand? One of my personal faves. This was not taken in Sweden but this is exactly how Stockholmers look--and act--when the sun becomes a reliable presence in the spring. Finally, the woman with a rock in her hands and a look of fierce joy: I'm loving her everyday warrior queen vibe.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:38 PM on December 8, 2016


We don't really take pictures of casual and spontaneous intimate moments in time/place like these anymore.

Really? Because I'm pretty sure we take more than ever before. I mean, yeah, there's a lot of food pix and bathroom selfies out there, but still a metric ton of "casual and spontaneous intimate moment" pictures in my feed.
posted by greermahoney at 11:42 PM on December 8, 2016




We don't really take pictures of casual and spontaneous intimate moments in time/place like these anymore.

Hmm, maybe it's closer to the opposite, that camera phone make "spontaneity" almost reflexive, easy, and quick, where older cameras required more involved decisions on when to take a picture and how to frame it. The seeming intimacy might come then from the care involved in shooting these moments, since the effort involved and interest in what's being shot meant the photographer was more likely to be invested in making choices and caring about the things being photographed.

That doesn't make older photos better, or cameraphone photos worse necessarily, but it does make the process of deciding to shoot and actually taking the photo a little more complex.

There too, is a lack of history to these photos, not of the things being photographed, but of the awareness of the history and craft of photography in many of them that allows for a feeling of spontaneity that may be absent in our more media informed age. There are a few shots in this batch that stand out for being "overly" conscious in their framing, but many are of moments that don't fit a more professionally aware or crafted paradigm, which, ironically, can make them seem more interesting or arty by dint of being unlike conventions of our time which we adopt without reflection.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:40 AM on December 9, 2016


I meant to add that the technical operation of cameras is significantly different now. When these shots were taken, film speed and lighting made the length of time the shutter needed to remain open longer, making blurred movement more likely and changed the overall tone of the images. many cameras didn't have a lens view feature, so the photographers would have to estimate a little on what would be in the shot and posing was often a more elaborate element in taking photos as those in them and the photographer were aware of the longer time involved in getting a shot.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:49 AM on December 9, 2016


I think I enjoyed this more than the 100 Most Influential from the other week.
posted by iffthen at 5:35 AM on December 9, 2016


Me
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:39 AM on December 9, 2016


I'd say it's not that photos aren't spontaneous and intimate like these are any more. Photos today are more ephemeral because you take them, share them, then they disappear down the news feed. These are photos taken with the same seeming lack of care as a photo today, but when you add the knowledge they were taken at a time when photographs were inherently more complicated and involved they gain a mistique they otherwise wouldn't have.

The juxtaposition of ephemera and permanence is a pretty common subject for photography, but it's still a compelling one.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:40 AM on December 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


lagomorphius
Oh Edmund Scientific Catalog, I see what you did there.

so do I. Surprised others didn't.
posted by james33 at 6:09 AM on December 9, 2016


Photos today are more ephemeral because you take them, share them, then they disappear down the news feed. These are photos taken with the same seeming lack of care as a photo today, but when you add the knowledge they were taken at a time when photographs were inherently more complicated and involved they gain a mistique they otherwise wouldn't have.

This is kind of what I was getting at. I feel like there is more of an aura of permanence of the moment to these images,, and a big difference between ones such as these versus today's intentional, curated streams of someone's 10th attempt at a selfie, a stranger's breakfast from a just-so angle, the ability to evaluate the same image through 30 different filter options on a screen, subjects shying away from appearing in an image that will no doubt appear on the internet, etc. Yes, it's "easier" to click away forever with a camera phone, but that, coupled with the ability to share any given image with the entire world, to me, makes today's situation more of a performance than was ever intended with private photographs from times past, when such thing as a "feed" did not yet exist.

Hard for me to put into words, but I just don't think these are comparable to the way we capture the moment in the digital age.
posted by wats at 11:57 AM on December 9, 2016


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