As most of you know I'm a bit of an old photograph nut. I collect them. I paint from them. My stock in trade is to put them up online and digitally preserve them. I torture my family with them. I torture all of you with them. Seriously! There should be a 12 step program for my problem.
The following is one that I found entertaining and thought provoking. Old photos tell of a time gone by. If looked at closely they speak to social history in a way that history textbooks cannot. They are more personal than facts and figures. They can convey information about a moment in time. I find them infinitely fascinating.
This photograph was supposedly taken at Galveston Beach. JR and I were there this past weekend. It did not look like this but I was dressed just like the woman in front...Not! I was really dressed more like the guy but let's not go there. Let's take a good look at the background. If you look very closely you will see a sailing ship on the left and a steamship on the right. It is hard to tell but I sort of suspect that this photo was taken in a studio and not at the beach. Why do I think this? Check out the sand. It seems awfully smooth to me. The clothing doesn't seem to be windblown though I've never been on this beach without a little wind. It is not like the shutter speeds back then were fast enough to stop the motion. Also, check out where the sand and water meet. I looks a little like a drape. The composition seems just a bit contrived. I, of course, could be totally wrong about this.
If it is a draped studio photo it leads me to ask questions like:
- Why go to a studio to take a picture of a beach just over an hour away?
- Did they also have other photographs taken on the same day with different backgrounds and clothes?
- What prompted them to have this particular photo taken?
If they were really at the beach, and they very well could have been, the questions change:
- Did the women actually go in the water?
- Did they take off their stockings first?
- Was that considered forward?
- Were their camps/tents set up to get out of the sun like there is today?
- Where did that big piece of driftwood come from?
- Was there a special occasion to go to the beach that day?
- Where are the seaweed and other stuff that tends to wash up?
- Was the sailboat in the background used for pleasure or trade?
- How did they get to the beach? Did they drive one of those new automobiles? Did they take the Interurban train?
- Was this before or after the great 1900 hurricane?
These aren't even half the questions I have about this one photograph. It is little wonder I get distracted when looking at a box full old photographs.
I do know a bit about this photograph. The gentleman was a famous judge in Houston that was instrumental in starting/expanding the Ship Channel. The opening of the Ship Channel changed the face of Houston. His wife (seated next to him) was a leading suffragette in Texas. She was also an inventor. She invented and patented a street sweeper and garbage cans. She tried to get elected to the school board but of course that wasn't going to happen. Their daughters were debutantes and married well. Which I'm fairly sure was expected of them.
And, I have, once again, proven that I'm an old photograph/history freak but these are the things that I think about.What are ya'll thinking about today?