This is the kind of photograph you could write a book about. It tells of days at the estuary in the early 1920s. The children were young and mother was visiting. We were happy then. Before it happened. Before the end came.
This is a strange little thing - a Victorian pasteboard portrait, about a third of the size of a normal carte de visite. It measures 7.5 cm by 3.5 cm and I have found some mention of this size in the literature and such miniature portraits are sometimes known as minettes. They are not too dissimilar in size to a modern day visiting card and such things are, I guess, the great-grandchildren of carte-de-visites.
This photograph comes with best love to Mary and Willie - but from whom? We will never know - but we do know the photograph was taken in January 1936 at the splendidly named Los Angeles Portrait Studios in Edinburgh. Despite the fine sounding name, there is something a little slap-dash about the portrait: those distracting gloves, the lighting stand that has crept into the lower right corner, and the shadow of something to the left. It's not exactly Hollywood.
I suspect that this studio photograph was taken in the 1920s - hardly twenty years after the Victorian and Edwardian portraits I have often featured here before. But what a change - the face, the clothes, the pose, the look. It is a photograph from a different epoch.
This Edwardian Cabinet Card of an unknown couple comes from the studios of Walter Morice (1862-1942). He was born in the King Cross area of London and by the time he was twenty he had established a photographic studio in Lewisham High Road. In 1899 he moved his studios, and his residence, to Rushey Green, Catford, in South East London and he remained there until his retirement in 1926.
I would guess that this particular portrait dates from just after the move to Catford. The fact that the woman is wearing what appears to be mourning clothes might suggest that it was taken in the immediate aftermath of the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901.
The lack of any type of studio background and the lack of the studio props that were popular in earlier decades also suggests a portrait towards the end of the studio card era.
If there is a clear visual marker of the boundary between professional and amateur photography in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it is the trip outside. Professional photographers were studio based and their portraits tended to be formal affairs with drapes, chairs and prop vases. When photography became an amateur hobby, photographers had to go outside in order to achieve the necessary light levels for the technical requirements of the time. This unknown family is a perfect example of that trip outside.
These are scans of two medium format negatives that appeared in my collection from somewhere. They certainly are not mine, no do they belong to anyone in the family. The two negatives were joined and therefore we can assume they are of the same city. There is quite obviously a major river crossing and a military presence - and a certain middle eastern look to the dress of the locals. Could this possibly be Egypt in the 1950s?
This is a scan of a tiny print - not much bigger than an oversize postage stamp - which cannot be blamed for getting lost, falling down the back of a drawer, or whatever. It was so faded, the subject was completely indistinguishable from the background sepia blur. But scanned and repaired, fixed and tweaked - London in the 1920s emerges like it is emerging from a thick London fog. You can just make out Tower Bridge in the distance and that is the bulk of Cannon Street Station in the foreground. The photograph must have been taken from the top of St Paul's Cathedral.
This is not a picture from nowhere - it is a picture from the photographic studios of Jac Uebach in Krefeld, Germany. Known as the "city of silk and velvet", Krefeld is the centre of Germany's textile industry. The production of such fine textiles depends on the careful teasing out of fine threads : just the kind of skill that was needed to produce a splendid moustache like the one in the photograph.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche with his sister Terese Elisabeth and the family dog. OK, if truth be told, it isn't them, it is some unknown elderly couple in their garden in Cleckheaton (or some such place). But they look as though they have had thoughts that have changed the world. Maybe they have.
1707-133 : TWO THEATRICALS Two more smilers, but this time I suspect there are differences. First of all we have, I think, two women ...
1707-130 : VICTORIAN COUPLE WITH SMILES This Victorian couple are both smiling, which is rare for photographs of this age. It wasn...
This small Victorian portrait card measures just 2.5 by 1.5 inches and was of a size known, appropriately enough, as a midget . Such car...