Photo gallery: “15 photos that perfectly capture what it is like to live in the suburbs”

Insider has an interesting collection of stock and news images meant to sum up suburban life. If I had to guess, the ideas about what is going on in suburbs came before choosing the pictures (though I could be wrong). Here are the three categories I think the pictures fall into:

1. Life centered around single-family homes in neighborhoods with some interaction with nature (Pictures #1, 2, 3, 11, 12).

2. The necessity of cars (Pictures #4, 5, 7, 14)

3. Social life takes place in small downtowns (Picture #6), big box stores (#8), high school football games (#9), local schools (#10), sledding hills (#13), and state and county fairs (#15).

Does this accurately depict suburban life? Looking at my list of the seven reasons Americans love suburbs, there are several key pieces missing (showing family life, exclusion, local government) and several others underplayed (the importance of single-family homes, the middle-class nature of social life). Some of these would be difficult to show in a single photograph. Would family life look like a family unit playing in their backyard or sitting around the TV in their living room or all together in their SUV driving to one of their kid’s events? Similarly, showing a local government meeting is likely to be seen as dull – even if suburbanites like to think they have more immediate access to decision makers. Outside of showing a redlining map or a zoning map built around exclusionary zoning, how would one depict exclusion in a suburban community?

All that said, it would take me some time to think about what 15 photographs would best represent suburban life. And if the goal was to also have active and/or engaging images (not just descriptive ones accompanied by text), the task could be even harder.

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