Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vintage Portraits

Yesterday one of my best friends came into the city to visit. A little before she had to catch her train home at the end of the day we went to visit her grandmother who lives on the upper east side. She was a very elegant woman and a few things about the visit really stuck with me and inspired me to think about the inspiration for this post.

I am always interested in family photographs, especially older ones from a few generations back. There was one image in particular that this woman had on one of her cabinets of herself as a young child and her mother who had an amazing wavy hairstyle very characteristic of the 1920's and 30's, like this one here:

In another image, my friends-grandmothers-mother was sitting on a row of chairs looking back at the camera. The sheer elegance and the way she was posed seemed so relaxed and natural that it made the image even more captivating. It seemed as if the photograph were interrupting her glamourous way of life and that even when the photographer was done taking the picture, the woman would go right on back to living her (literally) picture perfect life. I think that what makes images from the 20's, 30's and even 40's so incredible is that they seem so cinematic. I see movies about those time periods and everything in those movies is re-created in a perfectly composed way and for me, that viewpoint translates into my imagination so when I see images from these times they are part of a bigger scene that my mind is filling in the gaps for. It seems magical and compositionally wonderful.

I can't seem to get enough of old images and I love looking at them in antique stores but I think seeing them in a home is even better when you can get the stories directly from the family members; it doesn't necessarily make the image better or worse but instead makes them more meaningful and I tend to take more time looking at the image.

For this post I gathered a bunch of "vintage" images. Not all of them are actually from the earlier half of the twentieth century, but there are parts of each of the images that are reminiscent of the time period. Enjoy these and start looking through your own family albums!


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