NYT Finds Your “Moment[s] in Time” Dull, Domestic

On Friday, the New York Times’s photojournalism blog, Lens, announced an ambitious-sounding project called “Moment in Time,” described as follows:

Attention: everyone with a camera, amateur or pro. Please join us on Sunday, May 2, at 15:00 (U.T.C./G.M.T.), as thousands of photographers simultaneously record “A Moment in Time.” The idea is to create an international mosaic, an astonishingly varied gallery of images that are cemented together by the common element of time.

Yesterday, after receiving some 10,000 submissions, Lens bloggers David W. Dunlap and Kerri MacDonald sounded a smidge disappointed, reporting that while Lens readers were very “generous” with their submissions, Lens received a lot photos of puppies and flowers and other images of “domesticity” that don’t exactly capture the full “human condition” but, hey, they were taken with “care and affection” and maybe they balance out the serious, heavy photojournalism typically showcased on the blog— or, in the Times’s words:

[O]ur respondents tended to show moments of repose, rather than anxiety; of warmth, rather than heat. It may not constitute a “realistic” view of the human condition, but it does offer something of a balance to the images of suffering and destruction that are more often a staple of the Lens blog…

Another impulse discernible among the early submissions was domesticity. Rather than looking for broadly symbolic visual emblems, readers concentrated on showing their worlds (and maybe a few more cats, dogs, tulips and coffee cups than we hoped to see, if truth be told).

Pet-loving participants took to the comment section to express hurt feelings and defend “their worlds:” (“A picture of my dog. I thought it turned out alright too…too low brow for LENS i guess. Although that was my moment, and the whole point, I thought;” “[If the instructions had involved shooting ‘broadly symbolic visual emblems’ and went on to discourage ‘cats, dogs, tulips and coffee cups’ I would never have been brave enough to submit my picture…”)

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.