Portfolio: Penelope Umbrico

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The Independent Culture

What do people take photos of? It's a question that has preoccupied the American photographer Penelope Umbrico for the past five years, and her project "Suns" is the luminous result.

"I was looking at the online photo-sharing community Flickr five years ago and I was interested in what was the most photographed subject on the site," she explains. In 2006, more than 500,000 images had been uploaded and tagged with the keyword "sunset". "It seemed amazing to me, as there's only one sun, yet it existed here in so many variations."

The resulting series of collages digitally stitched together by Umbrico (one of which is shown here) is a constantly evolving tableau featuring more than 2,500 images of the sun, culled from the near-nine million amateur shots out there.

"The internet is said to be a place where we can assert our individuality," she muses, "but if you look around online, it does the opposite: it erases you as an individual as, on one level at least, we're all doing the same thing."

'Penelope Umbrico (Photographs)' is out now, published by Aperture, priced £40. For more: penelopeumbrico.net