Film: Other People’s Pictures

March 3, 2012 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM


When Syracuse native Lorca Shepperd and her husband/collaborator Cabot Philbrick set out to make Other People’s Pictures, they expected their documentary would focus on the trade in vernacular snapshots and albums that goes on at flea markets, auctions, antique and second-hand shops. “We thought it would be about the economics and mechanics of that market,” she said by phone recently from New York City, where the couple both work in television documentary. “But the emotions that collectors had about these photographs were really the whole point.”

Other People’s Pictures comprises overlapping interviews with snapshot collectors and dealers, along with interludes of stills drawn from particular sub-categories of images that people collect. One of the film’s many charms is that Shepperd and Philbrick seem to be equally fond of these quirky, compelling, largely anonymous images and the people who seek and cherish them. Largely filmed at the Chelsea Flea Market, Other People’s Pictures also takes us inside a few of these collectors’ homes.

We might call such collectors vernacular curators and each has evolved a specialty. Lisa, who says she can’t afford “real photographs” but second-hand snaps are within her price range, favors early 20th century images of “women with attitude,” often the proud early drivers behind the wheels of cars. The gallery drawn from her collection alone is worth seeing this film. Japanese-American Dan, transplanted to New York, collects images from his native Hawaii. Dan frames and hangs what he calls “banality of evil” photos – snaps of Nazis at weddings, in family groups and relaxing. Leslie collects what he calls the hidden history of male affection. And there’s Fern and Peter and Ken and Leonie, plus several dealers who expound on the virtues of their chosen display method– single images loose in bins, offered by category in boxes or albums, not counting the fierce debate over whether to break up intact family albums. Other People’s Pictures ranks as a Genuine Find.~ Selections from a review By Nancy Keefe Rhodes

Free to the PublicThis film screening and filmmaker presentation is made possible by funding through The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes/New York State Grants for Electronic Media and Film and the New York State Council on the Arts.