Bathroom Graffiti and Photo Blogging

Internet Photo Journals Tell Stories of Lost Umbrellas, Old Sneakers and Yesterday's Lunch


April 5, 2005 — Mother told you not to write on bathroom walls, but did she say anything about photographing restroom graffiti and posting it on the Internet?

I'm not sure if it's wise — or even legal — to snap pictures inside a men's room at a bus station in Phoenix, but that's what some photo bloggers call art. And while you can debate its artistic merit, you can't deny its popularity.

More than a million people a day are logging onto — a photo blogging community that registered its 1 millionth member a little over a month ago. It now boasts more than 180,000 new images each day, including some of the strangest photos you'll ever see.

One blog features images of "Sad Umbrellas" strewn on streets and abandoned in trash cans all over the world. Other blogs allow users to show off their babies, puppies and latest tattoos.

"It can be a benign form of rubbernecking," says Fotolog co-founder Adam Seifer. "A photo blog is often a little window into someone else's life. It can be whimsical and addicting."

Combining two of the hottest trends — Web logs and digital photography — with humanity's endless appetite for voyeurism apparently pays dividends. Fotolog is attracting more than 750 million page views a month.

The Web site, now in its third year, doesn't allow sexually explicit or gory images, but just about anything else goes. Some examples:

Clean Laundry — What's the one thing that might be more disturbing than dirty laundry? Perhaps it's an obsession with someone else's clean laundry. A group of bloggers are hung out to dry with images of underpants from all over the world.

Grammerpuss — Grammatical misfortunes and spelling blunders pictured on road signs, storefronts and public service messages. Perhaps you're looking for a service station with an adjoining diner that boasts a sign that says "Eat Here and Get Gas!"

Orwellian — You'd better watch what you're doing, because you know someone else is. The Orwellian Blog is a daily dose of surveillance cameras peering out from building crevices and other unlikely spots. Big Brother is watching, and his prying peepers are ready to catch you in the act of something inappropriate.