"The term covers (and promises) a lot, and a quick Google search fills in quite a bit of the territory. One enthusiast snagged the domain name, but there are plenty of others in the game.
One site notes that vernacular photography is '...one of the most affordable areas of collecting and therefore offers wonderful opportunities for the beginner to acquire beautiful examples of photographic art at very reasonable prices.' gargantuaphotos.com poses the basic question: 'Why would I buy someone else's crappy old photos?', and thefoundphoto.com is another gallery/vendor.
Boston University hosted Vernacular Reframed, 'a two-day interdisciplinary conference examining issues in vernacular photography' in November 2004, but lots of enthusiasts are in the game as well: Square America, bighappyfunhouse.com, and Junior Bonner blogs about the phenomenon. Some specialize in specific genres, like photobooth and African American Vernacular Photography. Ookpik specializes in Michigan photographs, happy palace has an eclectic (and ever-growing) mix, greywater posts 'photographs from films I processed that I found in old cameras...', and eBay has a Vernacular Photography Enthusiasts group with more than 100 members.
Serious scholarship is not far behind: Electronic Journal of Vernacular Photography may be stillborn, but Innocence regained? Or just another kind of fiction? from eye magazine suggests that there are many who take the medium seriously. One is Geoffrey Batchen who taught a course at CUNY's Graduate Center (there's a video of a lecture he gave at Brown)
Quite a few museums have had vernacular photography shows, including Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography at New York's Metropolitan Museum, and this grant proposal from the Indiana University Archives Seeing the Color of America: Digitizing the Charles Cushman Collection is evidence of archival interest in the medium.
My friend Joan Larcom reminds me of one of the authorities who has done the most in this realm, Michael Lesy, and his coinage of the term demotic photography, which I find a good supplement to 'vernacular'. A New York Times story notes that:
'In the past, Mr. Lesy has ruffled some academic feathers by arguing that what he calls 'demotic photography,' like family snapshots or picture postcards, deserves the same level of scholarly study traditionally given only to art photography... 'my whole intention is to subvert the [art photography] canon... There are possibilities that go beyond the safe definitions of what an artist is and what the camera is used for. ...Academics... deal with photographs as aesthetic, intellectual constructs, or as integers in philosophical or linguistic argument. That's not all they are. They're slippery and deeply emotionally charged. A photograph is a thing which, to use an old scholarly word, needs to be 'unpacked.' There's the manifest content, then half a dozen layered contents.'
(NYT 17 Dec 2005 sec B pg 9)"
(Hugh Blackmer, oook.info)
"Search for biographical and service details for over 115,000 New Zealand service men and women from the 19th century till today and especially from World War One and World War Two."
(Auckland War Memorial Museum)
Fig.1  Portrait, WW2, soldier standing in front of jeep, wooden hut, cigarette in hand, wearing beret. Godfrey Perkins 20/641254 at Mizuba 1946.
Fig.2  Group soldiers, Perenchies, Germany. Wilfred B Quennell 1st row standing 4th from left, scanned from copy of original.
"To me Postcards and Blogs share something in common. Both contain basically private information but can be read by people who have nothing to do with the writers. There is nothing wrong with reading a postcard that is not addressed to you or checking out a blog that is all about the personal life of an unknown person. A typical way of protecting privacy is using information that will be understood only by the people whom the message is addressed to. Another defensive approach is to be laconic, rather inexpressive. This last strategy is typically seen in postcards.
This blog is intended to play in a sense with these issues of privacy. For this reason my approach is purely literary (another way of protection). Here I mix together real and fictional stories. Some people who 'receive' a postcard from me are real people, others unrelated or almost unknown to me. Of course I, as an architect, 'send' only architectural postcards. Some of them were already postally used and therefore now they are being rewritten by me. In short, I am just making up postcards.
Las Tarjetas Postales de siempre tienen algo en comun con los Blogs de ahora. Su caracter es publico, (cualquiera puede leer su contenido) aunque su intencion sea privada (la correspondencia va dirigida a una persona o grupo concreto). Un blog es publico porque cualquier persona tiene acceso a el, pero su caracter tiene algo de privado porque va dirigido a alquien en particular. Se escribe un blog pensando en un grupo de personas mas o menos numeroso pero concreto. Eso no quita para que haya blogs mas 'universales' con los que algun 'desconocido' pueda identificarse. Pero aun asi, todos los blogs tienen algo de personales, de diarios.
Mi blog versa sobre arquitectura moderna, que es algo que me interesa mucho. Esta es revisada a traves de tarjetas postales de arquitectura que son reales (las cuales yo poseo y colecciono). Las tarjetas estan dirigidas a personas concretas que conozco, conoci en el pasado o quise conocer. Algunas tarjetas son recientes, otras muy antiguas y las demas ni lo uno ni lo otro. Algunas estan escritas y enviadas, otras por escribir. Lo que yo hago aqui es escribirlas o a veces reescribirlas. En todo caso reinventarlas. Son pues Postales Inventadas."
Fig.1 7 March 2011: Hotel Savoy-Bandung- Indonesia
"Packard Jennings and Steve Lambert asked architects, city planners, and transportation engineers, “what would you do if you didn’t have to worry about budgets, beauracracy, politics, or physics?” Ideas from these conversations were then merged, developed, and perhaps mildly exaggerated by Steve and Packard to create a series of 6 posters for the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Art on Market Street Program"
(Steven Lambert, November 2007)