Monday, June 1, 2009

A Peoples' Picture in the News

Photo: A Peoples' Picture

Published: 22 Apr 2013 11:52 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Apr 2013 11:52 GMT+02:00

An American scientist is trying to stir up creative spontaneity in the eastern German city of Dresden by leaving disposable cameras around for strangers' use, before collecting them and displaying the results online. Jessica Ware reports.

Utah-native Matthew Jorgensen has been running the website “A Peoples' Picture” for a number of years in the United States, leaving disposable cameras with a note taped to them in public places. He decided to bring his project with him when he moved to Dresden, Saxony, last May.
“At first I thought that Germans might not pick up the camera at all,” he told The Local, explaining that he imagined they would be less likely to do something so random. “But I was wrong and they took to it as well as people in the States.”
So far Jorgensen, 28, has dotted four cameras around Dresden, largely in parks. The resulting photos showed, he said, that the Germans were trying to be more seriously creative compared to their US counterparts.
German snappers also tended to take a couple of photos nearby and return the camera, while in the United States, people would take the camera for several hours before returning it.
“This project was started as part of an effort to get people to notice the beauty around them every day,” the note stuck to the camera reads, inviting the finder to pick it up and be creative. Instructions can also be found on the website detailing how people can make their own disposable drop, should they have the urge.
“People clearly like taking photos of the most beautiful things around them, normally their partner, family or friends,” said Jorgensen. “This makes it a rewarding hobby and one which reminds me of the good in people.”

None of the developed films have rendered any weird photos, which initially was a shock to the Humboldt scholarship scientist. “It's a chance for people to take a picture of anything without consequences as it's completely anonymous.”
One of the only hitches so far with the German edition of “A Peoples' Picture” is that two of the cameras disappeared, something that was more unusual in America.
“I don't think people are stealing them though,” said Jorgensen, adding that it was more likely that they were a little confused.
Jorgensen, a nano-scientist at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden hopes, he said, to take on some of the country's bigger cities. “Especially Berlin, it's a really creative place and creates some really interesting photography,” he said.
Until then, he's waiting for an unfinished camera which he has been trying to get Dresden students to use. But putting it out in the morning “accompanied with a note in very basic German” on the university campus before returning in the afternoon to collect it has yet proved unsuccessful.

“I'm not too sure the university students are into it, maybe they're too serious,” he said.

Matt Jorgensen and his photography project,
“A Peoples’ Picture”

Greg Wilcox: City WeeklyPhoto: Stephen Gelb / City Weekly
What if I left disposable cameras around with a note attached telling people to snap a few photos and then bring the camera back? It would be fascinating to see what they take pictures of.

I haven’t gotten the dramatic, expressive or shocking pictures I initially expected. It’s like people are afraid that the person who placed the camera is out there watching them. Rather than being shocked, I am charmed. People take goofy self-portraits, pictures of their kids, nature shots, and (my favorite), shots trying to capture their subject at an odd angle, creating a feeling of, “how on earth was that captured?
Read the rest of the article at


Katie Drake: The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake City chemist dabbles in art at random

Photo: Anna Kartashova / The Salt Lake Tribune
Matthew Jorgensen is pursuing his doctorate in chemistry, but recently decided to try his hand at sociology.

Jorgensen is conducting a social experiment by leaving disposable cameras around Salt Lake City, with a note asking people to take any photo they want and then leave the camera where they found it.

Jorgensen then posts the pictures to a blog, A new picture is posted each day, and so far no two have been alike.

...Jorgensen's curiosity is completely normal*, said Marcie Goodman, a University of Utah sociologist.
"Most of us enjoy doing some sort of examination of what happens in society," Goodman said. "This is what we've been doing since the beginning of time -- trying to figure out what other people are doing."
Goodman said the project is a great way to gain an insight into others' lives, but that it is more observation than actual social research.
Read the rest of the article here:

*Note: I'm normal. I even have a published statement by a Ph.D. sociologist to that effect, I feel as if a huge weight is lifted from my shoulders.


PonchoMeg: The Modern Bohemian
As a Modern Bohemian, I love the concept of A People's Picture, a blog that, as the blogmaster describes, "seeks to give average people a chance to be creative anonymously, to shine in secret. I leave disposable cameras around with a note asking the finder to take a picture..."These pictures then get posted on the blog. It is an exciting project to me. It's creative, simple yet complex at the same time, and deals with human activity and emotion as art. I can't wait to see more.

Best Blog Nomination has been awarded "best blog" by Poncho Meg the modern bohemian. The award is simply a scheme to generate back links, and is awarded at a whim to 15 people chosen by the awarding blog. However, I like Poncho Meg... and she DID choose this blog out of many, so thanks Meg! You can check her blog out at PonchoMeg: The Modern Bohemian

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