Found Fotos
by Sam Pratt
Keep your eyes open, and you'll notice an astonishing number of photographs discarded in public places:

Other people's photos.

Unwanted free duplicates.

Unflattering photos.

Lost photos.

Bad photos.
Often, Found Fotos are just plain goofy. Consider the mystery of this triptych of I.D. pics found near the West Side Highway in Manhattan: are these security guards, or police officers? At first glance, they seem to be the same person. Do you need to have brown, brushed-back hair and a cheesy moustache to work in that precinct? And what kind of raw meat are they feeding that guy in the middle?

Some pictures get discarded for mere technical reasons, such as blur. Some get weeded out for unfortunate cropping, or an unflattering likeness. Some just beg the question: Why?

Still others suggest a new kind of photography competition: who can find the World's Least Interesting Photograph? A photograph so dull, you don't even notice that it's there. Until you, dear browsers, suggest something worse, STIM nominates this stunning example of pure lack of appeal.

Indeed, the death knell of Yours Truly's career in painting sounded when he started finding photos in the street. Unlike the fussy, self-indulgent business of slathering pigment on canvas, scanning the sidewalks for Found Fotos fulfills the tenets of late 20th century art-making. Namely, the artist's "hand" and intent are invisible; the "producer" remains coolly removed; the element of randomness provides a sense of truth lost in more subjective productions, affording an unpredictable slice of contemporary life. Or something like that.    </end>

Go on and see all the Found Fotos. If you see one of yours, e-mail us and we'll send it to you.

SAM PRATT is the editor of Ersatz Monthly and a columnist for Esquire Magazine. He lives in New York.

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