Hello, and thank you for visiting my little corner of cyberspace.
I have always loved looking at photos, especially photos of people. I find myself especially engaged by very old photos, and photos of people I don’t know. (I say that, of course, with all due respect to my friends and family, whose photos I treasure.) I look at old photos of people I don’t know and wonder who they were, what they were like, what their lives were like, etc., and I ponder how things have changed (or not changed). Photography has been described as the art of taking things out of context, so I have to wonder how much of what I get out of a photograph is what I put into it (projecting my own personality and values onto it). I find the whole process of looking at photos to be fascinating, entertaining, and sometimes moving.
As my finances permit (or my self-control fails), I buy old photos (eBay, antique stores, etc. – I have also received a few as gifts). I have hundreds now. Mostly cabinet cards, real photo postcards, vintage studio portraits, and snapshots. (I have just a couple of tintypes and about eight or nine ambrotypes.) They are mostly random, assorted photos, though some are related, and I even have a few photo albums. There are some rather new ones, but most are pre-1940, with many from the 1800s. This is not a precious collection full of valuable Stieglitz prints or museum quality daguerreotypes. I’m not expecting one of my photos to turn out to be an undiscovered Walker Evans or August Sander. Many are rather damaged. But I don’t care. I’m not a dealer, these aren’t a financial investment for me, and I’m not looking to sell them. It’s just that I see all these faces staring back at me across time and I can’t help but be caught up in the interplay.
Sadly, they have just been sitting around in boxes and albums lately, and I felt it was a shame that nobody was looking at them (including me). So I thought I would share. Put them out there for others to enjoy, if other such people are out there. If anybody else is captivated by any of these images, it will have been worth the effort. I’ll try putting at least one a day online, labeling them as thoroughly as I can without guessing (I’m not an expert in things like guessing the dates), and mixing up the subject matter and time periods to keep it from getting too monotonous. This is my first such venture, and it’s definitely a work in progress. Feel free to comment! I’d love to hear your reactions to these images.
In the best possible world, these photos could help a costume designer, or fill a gap in somebody’s genealogy research, or something along those lines. But I’d be happy just to know that other people found looking at these images to be interesting and enjoyable. Thanks!
P.S. I feel I should point out that I’m someone who lives firmly in the present. I don’t look longingly at these photos, wishing for a return to some mythological “good ol’ days”. In fact, looking at these old photos sometimes reinforces my gratitude for the progress the world has made in the intervening years.