Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Discarded studio photo

Unknown couple with child
Once upon a time this image was important to someone. The couple, and a child (their child or a grandchild?), dressed in their best clothes and went to Bardwell's Studio studio in the city of Melbourne, Victoria. Did they walk, take a train or tram, or did they travel by horse and cab?

The photographer instructed the man to take off his hat and place it on the pedestal, told them how and where to stand, and took some images. I wonder why the child is looking directly at the camera but the adults are looking at something or someone to one side?

The photo was developed and printed and eventually collected by the subjects. Money changed hands. Maybe the photo was placed in a frame and placed on the mantlepiece. Maybe it was added to an album. They knew who they were so there was no need to write names on the back of the photo. Maybe extra copies were ordered and given to other members of the family.

Time passed, people died, the photo was bundled in with others and eventually discarded. By chance it was rescued and donated to a library.

Who are these people? No one knows but it has value as a historical record of clothing styles, hair styles, beard styles, studio portraiture and photographers.

This post is in response to the theme photo for Sepia Saturday's 300th anniversary, a photo of an unknown people, that was also rescued.


  1. A lovely photograph to match the prompt, and I liked the way you described its "history".

  2. It does seem strange that only the little girl is looking directly at the camera.

  3. What a great match...even the stiff pose of the little girl.

  4. Surely the photographer could have positioned the corpulent woman at a softer angle. I guess I'm sensitive to that being a bit on the 'plump' side myself. But oh, those stiff dark clothes the women wore back then certainly didn't help.

  5. Certainly a very similar history for both this and the prompt photo and the subjects similarly posed and looking quite severe - it probably wasn't a family favourite!

  6. A formidable looking couple. No wonder the child appears to be more than apprehensive.

  7. These three are posed similarly to the prompt, but they all look alive. I'm sure the woman thought she was looking very well and wanted to show off her outfit and self. Maybe the photographer told them to look to the side but the little girl continued to look at him? We'll never know.

  8. I'm so glad I don;t have to struggle into clothes like that each time I want to go out the front door. The gloves and the hat, OK, but that stiff dress with so much material around your neck, and that's without imagining what she is wearing underneath. But she looks good in her best clothes and would have been proud of her husband and family.

  9. This photo really hits all the marks for the theme this weekend, it's a prizewinner for sure. I've wondered if the first flash pans that early photographers used might have required subjects to look away from the camera. The odd gazes are worst in the larger group photos.

  10. I think this too often: if only someone had written names and a date on the back! It's a great photograph.

  11. The woman's outfit is exquisite!

    1. I agree. That dress is really a piece of art.

  12. A strangely stiff and starchy group, and yet there is something darkly appealing about it. A great match for the details of the poses in the prompt image.

  13. Given the quality of the picture,
    it's a pity someone decided to discard this.
    Fortunately, some people still value pictures like these.


I love to read your comments. Thankyou for your interest.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...