Never before have so many people photographed so much of their daily lives. We post and share billions of photographs online each year, primarily in social media. But what is left of the personal photographic archive when we log out of Snapchat, end our Instagram account or even switch to a newer cell phone?

These questions were the foundation for the first year of our project, funded by Nordic Culture Fund. As we have ended the initial phase, we are now setting out to launch a three year research project, based on our findings from the pre-study. The next phase of our work, which in June 2016 was awarded over 5 million SEK by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Sweden), will begin in 2017 and end in early 2020. The main goal of the project is to develop new work practices for heritage institutions to collect and disseminate the ephemeral everyday pictures.

The project partners are The Nordic Museum (Sweden),  Stockholm County Museum (Sweden), Finnish Museum of Photography (Finland) and Aalborg City Archives (Denmark). Joining the project as research partners are Professor Helena Wulff and Associate Professor Paula Uimonen, both at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. Also joining the project is Ph.D. Lisa Ehlin.

The reference group consists of prominent researchers from Sweden, Finland, Denmark och the UK. 

The main goal of the project is to address the changes in amateur and personal photography and the fact that museums and archives have not kept up with these changes. Our image databases are still primarily designed for analogue photography. They are not designed to handle images from social media. Work practices still focus on the photograph as a physical single and unique object. 

As a result of the pre-study of this project we can say there is a great risk that memories will be lost if we do not create new work practices around photography collections.

During 2017 we will launch four pilot projects that will serve as case studies for our research. During the pilot phase, we will test different methods of collecting. The goal is to find methods for museums and archives to collect digital images from social media, and to develop comprehensive recommendations for collecting and dissemination of photograph collections.

Another aspect of the project is to develop work practices around audience engagement, in terms of including and involving more people in the creation of our public cultural heritage. The aim is to explore methods for participation around, and co-creating of, photograph collections.

A central part of the project will be to develop prototype interfaces for disseminating social digital photography online, challenging traditional ways of presenting photograph collections online.

The result of the project will be, in addition to cultural institutions gaining knowledge and recommendations on the collecting and disseminating of social digital photography, a series of seminars, a larger conference, an anthology and a report.

Follow us on the blog and on Twitter to keep up with the progress of the project. Do you know of new initiatives relevant to our project? Please get in touch!