Vernacular photography is the creation of photographs, usually by amateur or unknown photographers both professional and amateur, which take everyday life and common things as subjects. Though the more commonly known definition of the word "vernacular" is a quality of being "indigenous" or "native," the use of the word in relation to art and architecture refers more to the meaning of the following sub definition (of vernacular architecture) from The Oxford English Dictionary: "concerned with ordinary domestic and functional buildings rather than the essentially monumental." Examples of vernacular photographs include travel and vacation photos, family snapshots, and photos of friends, class portraits, identification photographs, and photo-booth images. Vernacular photographs also have become popular with art collectors and with collectors of found photographs. Some curators have begun to exhibit vernacular photography. Though collections of vernacular photography typically consist of found physical photographs from bygone eras, some collectors have expanded their definition to include digitally sourced photographs; such as the amateur product photography used for online classifieds listings.
Below is text from a recent Reader article on Keith Sadler's collection by Andrea Bauer.
Home is where the art is for Keith Sadler-the folk and outsider art collector has been curating flea-market finds for more than 20 years. Today his collections fill his Uptown one-bedroom, making his home a peculiar work of art itself. When Sadler began acquiring art in the early 80s, he was on the hunt for pop pieces and kitsch, but often brought home handmade works by unknowns instead. "I like the mixture of very commercial with the totally unique," he says. Sadler's obsessive style of stockpiling is revealed in the absurd quantity of John F. Kennedy salt and pepper shakers lining the kitchen shelves. "If one JFK salt and pepper set is good, 35 sets are better," he says. "I literally want every one ever made." Sadler displays his acquisitions with a keen eye for organization. Paintings by self-taught artists neatly paper the walls. Head sculptures by grade-schoolers span the exact length of windowsills. He arranged a giant horse sculpture in the very middle of the living room. A 1920s-era sideshow carnival banner is centered above the only two chairs in the house. Even the drying rack is a display for decorative plates, souvenirs from a pair of religious-themed roadside attractions: Iowa's Grotto of the Redemption and Wisconsin's Dickeyville Grotto. He's also visited Pasaquan, the former art compound in Georgia built by late folk artist and mystic Eddie Owens Martin, aka St. EOM. Sadler keeps Martin's painting of an antigravity power suit above his bed and has a matching tattoo on his arm. The dining room is dedicated to paintings by Stephen Warde Anderson, a self-taught artist from Rockford whose subject matter includes portraits of B-movie stars, royalty, and boy-band members. Sadler will loan a few of these pieces to the "Collective Soul" exhibit opening September 19 at Intuit. Since retiring, Sadler has cut back on collecting. "If I am buying anything anymore, it's usually photo related," he says. "Photos take up such little space compared to a horse made from an old oil drum."