Snapshot Aesthetic


“I am a passionate lover of the snapshot, because of all photographic images it comes closest to truth […] The snapshooter's […] pictures have an apparent disorder and imperfection, which is exactly their appeal and their style. The picture isn't straight. It isn't done well. It isn't composed. It isn't thought out. And out of this imbalance, and out of this not knowing, and out of this real innocence toward the medium comes an enormous vitality and expression of life." —Lisette Model

In the 1940s, Model was one of the first artists to defend snapshots—photographs that are (or appear) uncomposed, loose, or impulsive—as important and powerful images. By the 1960s, the snapshot had come to be a popular art form, in particular through the gritty, spontaneous street photography of Diane Arbus (a student of Model's), Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand. More recently, artists like Nan Goldin and Wolfgang Tillmans have used what is now often called “the snapshot aesthetic” to capture their lives in a photo-diaristic manner, with a pronounced frankness and sense of familiarity. Juergen Teller and Terry Richardson have further mainstreamed the style via their fashion photography.