Vintage Snapshots

the wondrous world of vernacular photography

Category: Women

“I wanted it in color”

Vintage snapshot of woman with birds on her arms at Busch Gardens Park

Black-and-white birds, c 1950s (click to enlarge0

Inscription on rear reads: “Virginia took this but I wanted it in color cause the birds are so pretty.”

Table for One

Circa 1920s vintage photo of women sitting alone at dining tables

Dining Room, 1920s (click to enlarge)

On the Run

Circa 1920s snapshot of woman running, with parked car in background

In motion, c 1920s (click to enlarge)

A Depression-Era Portrait

Vintage 1930s snapshot of girl in front of screen door

Minnesota, 1939 (click to enlarge)

This photo didn’t jump out at me at first when I came across it in an album I recently picked up, but in looking at it again it struck me as possessing that simple beauty that snapshots are sometimes able to so singularly capture. There is a Minnesota processing stamp on the back dated April 1939, and so much about it conveys that Depression-era feel, from her dress to the house on blocks with no step up to the screen door. The dusty car in the background, her expression, the composition — it doesn’t, to be sure, scream “Great Depression” like some of the well-known images from that time, but it is, I think, deeply evocative in it own understated way.

 

Upside Down

Strange vintage 1970s color snapshot of person  doing a handstand in an open field

Upside Down, 1974

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.

Some Favorite Portraits

A random grouping of a few recently acquired shots that I think will remain favorites.

Vintage 1920s snapshot of woman standing with her arms outstretched

Beatific, c 1920s

Vintage photo of man on porch with post in way of his face

Porch, c 1920s

Odd vintage snapshot of two brothers flanking a small guy with a pistol pointed at him. Circa 1920s

Flanked, c 1920s (click to enlarge)

 

Suspicious

Vintage snapshot of woman with an amazing hat along with a pistol and extra bullets (circa 1900/1905)

Extra bullets (c 1900)

She doesn’t seem hugely keen on having her photo taken.

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.

“I Love the Ladies”

Vintage snapshot of woman playing piano, with sheet music and family portraits on piano

Edith at the piano (detail), c 1910s/20s (click to enlarge)

Vintage snapshots of people sitting at pianos are not uncommon, though this is one of the nicer ones I think I have come across — for several reasons in my view, including its composition/light, the framed photographs on the piano, the fact that the woman is actually playing rather than merely sitting or posing, and for the sheet music to her left. (See the full photo below.)

“I Love the Ladies” first appeared in 1914, and was written by Grant Clarke and Jean Schwartz, the latter a Hungarian immigrant born in 1878 who was one of the more prolific composers of the early Broadway era. Those early popular songs certainly had some great titles; some of my favorites from Schwartz include “Rip Van Winkle Was a Lucky Man,” “Why Do They All Take the Night Boat to Albany?” and “I’m Tired.”  For his part, the Akron, Ohio-born Clarke contributed to titles such as “Weary River,” “He’d Have To Get Under – Get Out And Get Under – To Fix Up His Automobile,” “There’s A Little Bit Of Bad In Every Good Little Girl,” and “I’m The Medicine Man For The Blues.”

Vintage photo of woman named Edith playing the piano with sheet music and family photos on the instrument

Edith, c 1910s/20s

Here is a link to the sheet music, and should anyone be interested in the place of the piano in early-20th century culture, I wrote a long piece that touches on that subject in connection with the jazz pianist George Shearing for another blog I do here.

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