From my recent studies of human families and their behaviour, I have come to the discovery that there is a new sub-species of human that nearly every family has living amongst it, the ‘photo ghost’. And this my friends, is a problem.
Before proceeding, it is important to understand the scientific definition of this sub-species: the person behind the camera, that is rarely, if ever, in front of it.
As part of my research I looked at groups I had familiarity with and exposure to – my own family. The results were pretty conclusive. Past photo ghosts within my family tree include my grandfather, the pioneer photo ghost in the family and photographer for 99 per cent of events when my mum was growing up. In my generation, it was my mother, and now with my own young family it has come to my attention that it is my husband.
For many families, the photo ghost is just a product of necessity – there needs to be people in the photo and there needs to be someone taking it. The thing is, it is often the same people who are in them and the same people taking them, thus creating the ‘family photo ghost’. Often a helpful family member will pop up their hand, perhaps they are the budding photographer of the family, perhaps they like to have control or perhaps no one else wants to take the photo.
The problem with the ‘family ghost’ is that if they continue to live amongst the rest of the family, before too long, when we look back at our photos some day in the future it is like they were never there.
When I look at photos of me when I was younger, 95 per cent are of me, just me. As an only child with a sole parent, my mum took the photos while I was in them. Now this mostly had to do with the fact that there was often no one else to take the photo, but it also had to do with the fact that my mum hated being in photos. If by some miracle she decided to be the subject of the photo, it was usually hidden behind me so only her face would be captured, rather than all of her.