I have an unusual hobby: I collect snapshots of people I don't know. I started collecting a few years ago — at swap meets, antique shops and the like — but the thing that got me started wasn’t the photos themselves so much as the scribbles I’d sometimes find on the backs. When you’re looking through bins of thousands of random, unsorted photos, every hundredth one or so will have some writing on it. It’s generally just identifying information (“me and Jerry at the Grand Canyon, 1947″), but every once in a while I'll find a something surprising, emotional, candid, hilarious, heartbreaking -- a few words that bring the picture to life in a profound new way, transforming a blurry black-and-white snapshot of people who seem a million miles and a million years away into an intensely personal sliver of experience that anyone can relate to. It becomes something not just to look at, but to listen to.
I began posting some of my favorite finds online in late 2010, and the reaction they got was amazing. It wasn't long before publishers got interested -- and now, I'm happy to announce, HarperCollins will be releasing <em>Talking Pictures</em> as a book on October 16, 2012. If you've been a fan of the blogs, fear not -- there will be lots of new (actually, very old -- but new-to-you) pictures in it; I've found some of my very favorite images just in the last few weeks.
Praise for Talking Pictures
"I'm absolutely fascinated by Ransom Riggs' ongoing series at mental_floss called Talking Pictures—themed collections of found photographs that happen to have writing on them. Usually, there's just enough written to make each image more powerful, and leave you wanting more." - Boingboing
"Riggs' book is not exclusively devoted to the aesthetics of the snapshot image, but rather touches on the humor, romance, drama, or tragedy of life via the accompanying handwritten text. These photos reveal something profound about our shared humanity in all its varied forms and are a poignant reminder of why we take pictures. None of us who love snapshots will ever look at them the same way again." - Robert E. Jackson, whose collection was featured in The Art of the American Snapshot.
Order the Book
It makes me pretty deliriously happy to finally be able to hold these images in my hands, bound in paper between two covers, and I hope they make a few of you happy, too. You can order Talking Pictures from a number of outlets:
It's also available in digital form, for the Nook, iPad and Kindle.
As long as you're clicking on links, take a look at this sort-of-book-trailer I made for Talking Pictures: