© Anahita Avalos

Introduction: Family Photography Now 40 Weeks

Family. What does it mean to us today? The definition of "family" in our language has shifted significantly in the 21st century. This has become apparent due to changes in communication, migration, wealth distribution, family law and the institution of marriage, coupled with new developments in technology and social media. This revolution in image-making means we can now easily share family moments and memories with our nearest and dearest, in an instant. Photography has therefore become, with respect to family and more generally too, a ubiquitous hobby in which personal snapshots of everyday moments are a shared digital and networked phenomenon.

In 2016/17 The Photographers’ Gallery embarked on an ambitious forty-week digital photography project Family Photography Now that explored the concept of a contemporary family, inviting people to share the myriad ways in which a family today can be made up.

Each week we commissioned a new directive and voice on the subject of family, and the topics explored included everything from parenthood, role models, "framilies", pets, family conflict, sanctuary, consumerism, death, same-sex families, celebrations all of which encapsulated the diverse notion of what family means today. We asked a variety of individuals to set these personal directives that ranged from the arts, public and literary figures such as Annalisa Barbieri, Oliver Chanarin, Sian Davey, Jenny Lewis, Mary McCartney, Martin Parr, Lemn Sissay, Meera Sodha, Alec Soth, Women’s Eqaulity Party, Penguin Books and The Foundling Museum to name a few.

Through this project, we received over 3000 truly diverse, compelling and eye-opening snapshots of the contemporary family, which all challenged the concept of a "normal" family. This visual plethora of photographs that were submitted through Instagram all resisted the notion that "one-size-fits-all", embracing and sharing a variety of definitions and ideas, opening up further questions around the subject of family life and its constructs.

— Bindi Vora, Family Photography Now project co-ordinator

Family Photography Now was a 40-week project led by The Photographers’ Gallery in collaboration with Thames & Hudson and Guardian Family.