Monday, June 1, 2009

What is A Peoples' Picture?

(Photo: Anna Kartashova / The Salt Lake Tribune)

I sat up in my bed and glanced at the alarm clock. The time was 2:14 am. I grabbed my wife's arm and said "I just had an idea. What if you just left cameras around with a note saying something like 'Pick Me Up, take pictures with me' so that random people could take pictures? Then you could post the images online and the people who took the pictures could see their own shots and what other people took pictures of. You could set it up to put a new picture up every day!" My wife blinked at me. "That's a good idea sweetheart, now go to bed."


A Peoples Picture is a project that seeks to give average people a chance to be creative anonymously, to shine is secret.

I distribute disposable cameras to various locations with a message attached that says:


Welcome to A Peoples’ Picture Project. Borrow my camera for a few minutes to capture a picture or two. Be creative, this is your chance! Feel free to photograph whatever you want. This project was started as part of an effort to get people to notice the beauty around them everyday.

Please when you are done return the camera to the exact spot you found it. You can see what others have found eye catching and beautiful, as well as your own photos at


Usually, most of the people that see my camera read the note attached with interest, but are too shy to pick it up. The pictures that you see posted here are taken by the bravest of the interested.

So what is the broader purpose? The project has a couple of main goals. First, we want get people excited about being creative. Second, I think that the photos people take anonymously (when they could get away with anything) says something fundamental about them. People generally don't take pictures of the same thing. Rather than shock the stranger who will view them and post them online, they charm him.

I have set the blog up to post a new picture everyday. Please, comment and vote on the pictures you like. The photos with the most votes will be tagged as favorites.

Thanks to Stephen Gelb for the profile pic. He is a fine photographer that I would extend my highest recommendation to.

Note: The banner at the head of this site was created by Madzia of DARE design in london,, DARE is a great company that I totally recommend for design work. Madzia was super cool to work with.

(C) Images and Text, Matthew Jorgensen (A Peoples' Photographer). The images on this site may be used for non-commercial purposes so long as the source of the photo ( is given in the image credits. Email me with any questions at


  1. What a great idea! I wonder why anyone would hesitate, unless they think the camera is loaded with pellets, or water, or red dye...I want to follow along and see what you get.

  2. Interesting concept. I hope it works out.

    How much does it cost you though? to leave the cameras out and then develop them? I wonder also if you get all of your cameras back!

    though, I guess, i can't think of another way to do this. You'd be flooded with pictures if you post up a postal address or even an email address.

    Good Luck!

  3. Pocket Mouse: The cameras cost $3, the developing straight to CD also costs $3. There is 27 pictures on each camera, so that is a little over $6 a month in operating costs. I haven't had any cameras stolen... yet.

    I am not sure what you mean when you said I would be flooded with pictures if I posted an email address. Were you thinking that people would send me the pictures they took or pictures they collected from strangers like I am doing... or something else?

    If you would like me to send you a disposable camera to collect pictures from strangers with and then send back to me, jet me an email.

  4. Well I wasn't clear above, but I was wondering how you could get pictures from outside SLC (i'm assuming that's where the cameras have been dispensed so far; a total guess) or especially outside the U.S.

    this concept wouldn't work if people could anonymously (or not) email/mail you a picture that they took with their own camera, because you really would be flooded with pictures, right?

    thats all i meant above! :)

  5. Ah, I understand now. You make a good point. You are right, so far the pictures are coming from St. George and Salt Lake City. Though, I do have cameras in other states that I have mailed to people I trust.

    I have one or two friends out of the country I could send a camera to... that's not a bad idea! Thanks.

  6. What a unique idea. I will be watching. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  7. Wow! This sure is one of the coolest ideas I've heard/read in a while! :D Super! From where are you? :D

  8. The idea is great, i love it, but i'm sure it won't work in Georgia (republic of Georgia i mean) without someone who is sitting with the camera and keeps an eye on it.The cameras simply will never return back :(
    nd thanks for the compliment on my blog,I feel proud (blush) :)

  9. I keep on comming back for more, so gimme gimme gimme :) Cant wait for the next update // M