More Than A Snapshot: A Visual History of Photo Wallets

by Annebella Pollen


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For over 100 years, when you’d often have to wait a week to see your photos, film processors used photo wallets - cheery illustrated envelopes - to return your pictures to you. They showed what subjects were considered suitable for a snapshot: bright-eyed children, laughing couples, adorable pets and perfect landscapes; they also reinforced prohibitions by what they omitted.

Drawing from the author’s personal collection of photo wallets from the 1900s to the 1990s, Annebella Pollen's book charts a century of popular photography in Britain: the birth of a new mass leisure pastime mainly marketed towards women, the growth of camera ownership after the Second World War, and behind it all, the working conditions of the people processing the films. It commemorates a time when you never knew if you had captured a treasured memory or your finger in front of the lens.

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Annebella Pollen is Professor of Visual and Material Culture at University of Brighton, UK, where she researches undervalued archives and untold stories in art and design history. Her previous books include Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life, The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians and Nudism in a Cold Climate: The Visual Culture of Naturists in Mid-20th-Century Britain.

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More Than A Snapshot: A Visual History of Photo Wallets
by Annebella Pollen

Four Corners Irregulars #10
Hardback, 112 pages, 22 × 16 cm
Published: 11 May 2023
Designed by John Morgan
ISBN 978-1-909829-22-0