Man and girl in Mechanicsburg, PA

Click here to view it larger.

As much as I love an elaborate studio setting, I seem to have developed a real taste for these old photos with no setting at all, except a blank wall and that patterned flooring (which somebody told me is an early version of linoleum). I especially love the full-body shots. With no other adornment, the subject is standing as if on a bare stage before the world, with nothing but their own selves to give us a sense of who they are. The photographer here is A. G. Myers of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. It’s a little Carte de Visite. Here’s the back (click the image to enlarge):

The negative is number 5862. Has he produced over 5,800 negatives? (Other examples of his work can be found online.) Or can the number be read some other way, such as it being the 62nd negative from the year 1858? Either way, while he presumably knows what he’s doing, this is hardly a flawless photo. Whether it’s a miscalculation of the lighting or a fault of some slight movement, the girl’s washed-out look makes her appear almost like a ghost. Or a doll. Or the ghost of a doll. You can see the feet of a posing stand behind the man, designed to hold him still for the camera’s long exposure time, but I can’t tell if the girl had one, too. I’m also intrigued by this little CDV’s rather jagged edges, as if the photo was trimmed with something like a knife. But despite the flaws, or maybe partly because of them, I love this photo.

4 comments on “Man and girl in Mechanicsburg, PA”

  1. It almost looks like the girl is wearing a mask from a masquerade ball.

  2. Very sweet. She’s wearing a tiny little hoop skirt, which makes her even more doll-like.

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