Variations (Uncle Chris)

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What it is:

Three photos, ranging from 1.5 x 2.5 inches to 3 x 4.25 inches, mounted on cardboard frames/backings of different sizes.

What I know about it:

All have Christopher Guenther / ? written on the back in the same handwriting, with the addition of Uncle Chris on the third.  The photographer of the first one is Crow of Maryville, Missouri.


I was going through a box and thought, “Wait!  Haven’t I seen those eyes before?”  Backtracking, I found not one, but two additional photos of apparently the same man.  (I say “apparently” because it seems even the family member doing the identification wasn’t sure.)  Holding them together, the resemblance is clear, but I am reminded how even the most subtle variations can make people seem different.  I had gone over these photos plenty of times before without spotting the connection.  In the first two, it seems he is even wearing the same suit!  But the lighting is different enough to make the first one look like a pretty portrait of a handsome young man, and the second one look like a candid photo of a rougher, more dissipated man.  (He may actually be older in the second one, it’s hard to tell.)  The third one seems closest in style and tone to the first one, though he seems to have added weight, unless it’s another trick of the lighting.  I find it all so fascinating.  Incidentally, this Christopher Guenther is apparently related somehow to this man and this woman, though I haven’t tried to figure out how.  (I may have to create a category for that family if I post more.)  One last thing, it seems I can add the third photo directly into this post below, and that clicking on it takes you to a larger image, though I’ve added the “click here” link to open it on a new page if you prefer.  I think clicking on the one above will take you to the next post, which is why I’m still adding the “click here” link for that one.  Let me know if that doesn’t work.  And I have to admit I’m a little frustrated with myself for not figuring that out sooner.  I mean, I’ve only been doing this blog daily for over a year, right?  *sigh*  Of course, I can’t post multiple photos too often or I’ll run out and have to buy more.  (Hmm, that might not be so bad.  Oh wait, just the thought triggers my hoarding, I mean collecting/archiving gene.)  Oh, well, this whole blog has definitely been a learning experience for me.  🙂

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6 comments on “Variations (Uncle Chris)”

  1. That is some suit! And the dark shirt/light shirt difference fascinates me. I wonder if the first two photos show the touching-up a formal portrait studio would do, like today’s magazine covers (

    • As I wonder if he has aged from Picture 1 to Picture 2, I wonder how much we can factor in the fact that the suit is the same. After all, it might be special enough that he would hang on to it for a while. And you’re right, switching from a light to a dark shirt completely transforms it. And thanks for the link. Poor Faith Hill! Before-and-after photoshop displays are always so fascinating (if sometimes a little disturbing). Did you see the article about it a while ago in New Yorker magazine? As for these old photos, I know touching up could be done in the pre-digital age of actual film. I remember getting old headshots done and watching the photographer take out very fine paintbrushes and carefully paint over stray hairs and pimples and things. I have a book of the Hollywood portraits of photographer John Engstead, which includes a before-and-after example of a 1950s photo of Marlene Dietrich, including Dietrich’s own handwritten notes in the margins about what needed to be corrected! And there was darkroom manipulation that could be done to achieve results that didn’t look artificial, but nevertheless were more enhanced than what you would see in real life (Ansel Adams comes to mind). I don’t know what, if any, techniques would be used to get the guy in Picture 2 to look like the guy in Picture 1.

  2. This set is particularly arresting. As ever – thank you for sharing these unique prints. It’s always refreshing (and sometimes mind-boggling) to stop by your blog 🙂

  3. Great collection, all of them! 🙂

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