Woman from Hamilton, Ohio

Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Photo (2 x 2.75 inches) mounted to a cardboard frame/backing (3 x 4.25 inches).

What I know about it:

Printed on the lower front left is Overpeck, and on the lower front right is Hamilton, O.  (My assumption had been that the photographer was Overpeck of Hamilton, Ohio, but a quick Google search turned up not a photographer, but an unincorporated township called Overpeck just outside the town of Hamilton, challenging my assumptions.)


Lately, I have been scanning old photos of myself for a variety of reasons (though not, of course, for this blog – I’m not that old, thank you).  It’s amazing to look back over the decades, and it’s startling to look at old photos that I remember disliking at the time because I felt they weren’t flattering, and now thinking, “Wow, was I really that young and good looking once upon a time?”  (Let me quickly say I am not fishing for compliments, just trying to express feelings I think many of us share sometimes.)  I chuckle at my youthful insecurities, and I wonder how I’ll view my current crop of “fat” or “ugly” or “bad hair day” pictures in another twenty years.  Meanwhile, the volume of photos keeps increasing, as everybody has cameras and smart phones, and you barely register the fact that somebody has even taken your photo before it shows up some place like Facebook.  I love looking at photos of other people, including candid ones, and yet I’m often so resistant to having my own taken.  But I’m trying to get better about that.  I mean really, what does it matter in the end?  Actually, dredging up my old personal photos, plus doing this blog, I’m convinced that it does matter, though not necessarily in the way I first think of when I’m feeling camera shy.  Take our woman from Ohio here.  I obviously know nothing about her or her level of self-esteem, but is it too brutal to think she may have looked at this photo and thought she looked, what, fat?  homely?  Oh, sure, we may instinctively rush to her defense and compliment her dress, her pretty eyes, blame the trendy but unflattering hairstyle, etc., but still.  And yet wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t have this photo?  Would a loved one, who loved her as she is, really mind if the photo were accurate?  Wouldn’t the photo instead be a treasured keepsake of that affection, diminished if it weren’t truly representative?  I don’t know how many chances she would have had to get her picture taken back then, and it would have been too bad if any self-doubt had prevented her from documenting herself.  I try to remember this and apply it to my life.  Of course, I still want to be recorded at my best.  Ah, well, I’m a work in progress, as are we all.

4 comments on “Woman from Hamilton, Ohio”

  1. Thanks for your musings about this picture. Something for anyone who hides from the camera to consider.

  2. So true, Matt. Not rambling. Honest, human, and subversive. Just the way I like you. 😉

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