Vintage Snapshots

the wondrous world of vernacular photography

Category: Couples

A 1960s Christmas

quirky odd 1960s vintage Christmas family poses with toy dog and closed-eyes cat

Labeled “Xmas 1966” on the back (click to enlarge)

Better late than never. This is one of my all-time favorites–especially the closed-eyes cat–and another example of how there really is nothing quite like a snapshot.

Early Photoshop

Altered snapshot photo on which someone has pasted a cartoon version of a woman's face

“Gracious! Look at us.” (c 1920s)

The face is on a piece of paper that has been glued to the back and shows through a hole cut in the photo.


Vintage snapshot of couple in Death Valley barren moonscape, circa 1920s

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, c 1920s (click to enlarge)


Merry Christmas

Vintage snapshot of older man displaying his Christmas present, a bottle of Old Spice

Old Spice at Christmas (c 1960s)

Christmas morning, covered with presents. Old Spice, taken out of the box to display. I love this one. Merry Christmas.

Good News?

Circa 1911 vintage snapshot of a couple reading what may be a letter

A letter? (circa 1911)

Into the Void

Fantastic vintage snapshot of two people at Laguna Beach, California, 1944

Beach reverie, 1944

This is labeled “Laguna ’44” on the back, for Laguna Beach, CA. Thanks to the keen-eyed Mike Conger for gifting this amazing shot — an estate sale find, I believe — to me yesterday.

Dueling Cameras

Great c. 1920s vintage photo of a couple pointing their Kodak cameras at each other

Brownie battle (c. 1920s)

The camera in at least the woman’s hand in this great shot looks to me to be a 1920s Kodak Brownie No. 3, Model B. According to what I have found online, the camera was produced from 1908 – 1934, but the trigger guard visible below her thumb was added to the Model B from 1920 – and the rest appears to match that particular camera, as shown below.

Detail of woman holding a Kodak Brownie camera

The way it used to work

Kodak Brownie No. 3, Model B

Kodak’s Brownie No. 3, Model B


Vintage snapshot of a a couple kissing, with photographer shadow

Kiss with Shadow (1940s)

Something you often see in vintage snapshots is not just a shadow cast by the photographer, but one in which you can tell they are looking down through the camera rather than holding it to their face. That was, of course, just the way a lot of cameras were configured at the time. It also resulted – however slightly – in a different perspective, with the camera at waist height rather than the height of the subjects’ heads. I think you can see that here. Just another thing that gives these old images a little bit of their charm.

I also love this one, with its partial shadow, where you again can see the arms holding the camera at waist level.

Vintage photo of a happy couple on tree stump, with photographer shadow.

Couple (1920s)


State Line Photos

1939 snapshot of a man and boy posing next to a sign welcoming travelers to Arizona.

"Arizona Welcomes You" (1939)

A staple of vintage amateur travel photography is the shot of a person or persons next to a state-line welcome sign. In a lot of ways it must have been a somewhat bigger ‘event’ to venture into other states in, say, the 1930s or ’40s, before the dawn of the interstate highway system in the 1950s (and of course before air travel became such a common phenomenon). I like this image a lot – the suit and slightly rakish hat, the sign itself, and also just the warm, vintage tone of the photo. Somehow the angle also gives it something, I feel. I’m curious about their story.

Here is another Arizona sign, which is pretty similar. I’m not, however, as intrigued by this photo’s subjects.

Man and woman pose next to Arizona welcome sign.

"Arizona Welcomes You" (undated but likely '40s)

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