As if there were any doubt, this is the week of Thanksgiving in the United States. A time when people gather with loved ones, eat turkey, laugh, enjoy a ball game, play some Xbox, Playstation or Wii ( Xbox One, Playstation 4 or Wii U, should Santa have come early this year), and, often, take a few photographs with cameras which come in many forms these days. And despite one’s best efforts to live in the moment, these are the days that make history in our minds.
In fact, the magnificence of history and photographs is where this week’s blog picks up! I want to draw attention to a Facebook page I have recently “liked” and that is “West Kentucky Genealogy”. I hope they do not mind me picking on them (in a good way, of course), as I have found nothing but fascination with their efforts and their posts.
In a nutshell, West Kentucky Genealogy is a page which includes many photos found, bought, donated or otherwise acquired from various Western Kentucky estates. Goals of the page include archiving photos, getting photos back to their rightful families, identifying people in these photos, and helping families and friends reconnect with each other through the use of social media.
These pictures often come as a hand-me-down at auction from a time long forgotten, which means the people in the photos have often been long forgotten as well. The goal in these cases is to identify, document, and archive our past before it is too late. Simply put, West Kentucky Genealogy posts the images and everyone in Western Kentucky and beyond is invited to view and help identify and place them. Also, people are encouraged to post their own images for archiving, identification, or as a reach-out to long-lost family members. This is a noble effort and I applaud the page’s administrator, Don Howell, for his work!
To me, scrolling through the page is mesmerizing. In fact, I often scroll enough to where my browser slows due to data overload! I look at these pictures and wonder what it was like at that moment in time. What did they do after the shutter had clicked and after the flash had flashed? How did the rest of their day go? These are the faces of people, many of which have lived their lives and have passed from here. However, these images captured those moments in their lives for me to see today! I’m sure they never imagined, as they sat in that studio or in front of that old house that people would be viewing these images in the year 2013 and beyond. The whole thing is amazing!
Now, I know the point of photography is to do just that. And we likely hope for the same longevity from our digital and 1-hour photos taken today. Unfortunately, you likely won’t get that longevity from today’s quick photos. At least, not without twice the effort, but that is a topic for another blog.
In any case, there is something just neat about these older photos. Taken in a time when people did not have a smartphone full of pictures or a selfie habit. Often these would be one of the few taken of an individual, there were only so many printed, and only so many survived the journey to now. And this is what makes them that much more cherishable…And that much harder to find. Once again, kudos to Mr. Howell for his efforts!
Now, aside from simply having them, other fascinating aspects of these photos, for me anyway are the poses. Often they were of the family or various members sitting pretty for the camera. People seldom smiled, as longer film exposure times (anywhere from 1-15 minutes) would have made a smile both hard to maintain and quite uncomfortable. Plus, also unlike us today with an abundance of portrait opportunities, many likely chose to invest a little more dignity and poise into their few portrait sessions.
While this is a big part of what gives these photos their nostalgic charm, it is also a minor hindrance to viewing their everyday lives. Let’s face it, if you were only going to have one family portrait made, you can’t allow for horseplay and you would likely not want a portrait that does not show you at your best. However, some have obviously gotten through.
As I was perusing West Kentucky Genealogy the other day, I stumbled upon an interesting photo (pictured above). In this picture, one can see a variety of things happening, most of which are not representative of the regular sit and stare portraits. We see three children looking at other family members. The youngest child playing with another child, causing him to blur a bit (once again, slow film is likely to blame). And we see one adult looking off-camera. Now, I’m sure the family might not have been the happiest with this portrait, but, to those viewing today, it has a liveliness one does not normally see in older portraits. In a way, it brings that era closer to ours. As any photographer will tell you these days: A group with this type of dynamic would likely require several attempts like these before you get one with all looking forward and smiling with eyes open.
Anyway, I could go on and on about all of these old photos, but, instead, I encourage you to explore them and experience them for yourself at West Kentucky Genealogy on Facebook.
Now to close this week, I want to remind folks we still have times available next weekend and the weekend after for our holiday portrait sessions! For $49 ($39 on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 for Small Business Saturday), the package includes: A 30-minute session, a free digital download, and a private online gallery of professionally edited portraits from which you may purchase personalized Christmas cards and other photo gifts.
Also, we are still booking for our Santa Baby Boudoir Special. For $149, this includes professional hair and makeup, up to one hour with the photographer, four professionally edited 8x10s (or a photo disc with four edited images), and the option to order additional photo gifts. To be discreet, we print the 8x10s in-house, however, the client may opt to have their portraits (and/or other gifts) printed through our online photo service as well. The choice is theirs!
Those looking to book a session may contact us at (270) 767-1163 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next week, be sure to “like” us on Facebook and, to all, stay warm and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!