Two moms enjoying a chat at a toddlers birthday late 1950s. A classic snapshot that perfectly captures the tête-à-têtes between the mothers with an offbeat composition. Tempting to crop it but I liked the deep well of the veranda space and the way the balloons poke in at the top.
The square format slide had degenerated to a murky magenta. I considered converting it to black and white but in the end liked this soft pink shade, with desaturated color.
The term ‘instant relative’ has emerged in popular culture. It refers to those photos of people found at flea markets. You can purchase them, take them home and presto! you have instant ancestors on your wall. I’ve seen them in holiday houses and restaurants, cloak rooms and hallways. In one holiday house I stayed in they hung above the bath. On the one hand it’s a shallow decor trend but on the other hand people really do start feeling a connection with the people in found photos. There’s definitely something deeper going on.
These instant relatives – photographed in the UK in about 1965 – all come from a single collection. One inherits the loving, friendly or intimate gaze without any effort, and perhaps that is their attraction.
Snapshots such as these had great significance for their owners in colonial South Africa, depicting as they do one’s connection to a tribe in a country of origin, far away.
With the remove of time and no real familial connection, the anthropologist’s eye comes in. I love the details of domesticity, the houses and clothing tell a thousand stories about middle class English society.
Here’s Bob Richter explaining what instant ancestors are and how you can welcome them into your home.
The cultural practice of photography is usually hidden – you see the snapshot that was taken not the photographer in the act of taking it. That’s why I love this 1966 find in which a woman is photographing two girls in the small front garden of a house in what looks like Mowbray, Cape Town. I haven’t identified the camera but, with it’s top viewfinder, it looks like a 1940s or 1950s model. Their names are written on the frame: Lesley, Gillian and Alison. Maybe you know them? I almost feel like I do.
For Christmas this year, I had a bit of fun restoring this slide of Christmas Day gift opening back in the day, and making a ‘hidden object game’ with it. Its fun to look closely at the details of 1970’s culture in a home setting and reflect on what’s changed, stayed the same, or come back into fashion.
Click on the pic below for a larger version, and have fun!
A companionable garden tea party back in the day. Mugs of tea, cigarettes and a good book. The red white and blue painted garden furniture is a great color combination. Not sure about those wooden ‘skis’ the legs are attached to though, I much prefer the way it looks without.
This slide was in good nick. With a bit of tweaking I made it less blue and more sharp.
What a jolly little tea party this is. Give me that swing seat all to myself! I think its England but I do know (from other slides in the collection) that these people are proper South Africans. They also know how to drink things other than coffee and tea, in fact I strongly suspect there may have been a tot of something else in those cups. Also think I can spot a melktert there on the table.
Modern establishment – 1961. I’m guessing its a restaurant in a park and wish I could see more of this super mod building and its interior.
The ruined original suggested a black and white solution and I first went in that direction, but ended up recovering and reworking the washed-out, bubble-gum colors. A cartoon effect was given to emphasize the clean lines of the cars and building.
“When I see a picture I don't like, I actually have a slight gagging feeling in the back of my throat. When I see one I like, a feeling of relaxation washes over me. It’s like falling in love.”
From: The People who Collect Stranger's Memories (The Atlantic September 26th 2016)