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I’ve got a bit of a fascination with old photographs – not just family photographs which have some direct meaning to me but ‘lost’ photographs of anonymous strangers. I’m not much interested in formal portraits (though I make an exception with Disfarmer, who was a pretty unusual professional photographer) and prefer amateur snapshots and photo booth images. I find those photographs poignant and intriguing — captured moments of time and a keyhole into lives now long gone.
I’ve just discovered Nicholas Osborn’s Square America, which has hundreds of photographs from the first three-quarters of the twentieth century. I love the site and I’m going to link to it every chance I get – even though the photographs make me feel kind of sad and remind me of the fleetingness of life. You can tell I’m in a kind of morbid reflective mood of late, but sometimes I think it’s good to think about how brief this all is and to remind ourselves that we should squeeze in every little bit of happiness while we can.

ch12.jpg   Old photographs also bring out my instinctive curiosity; I sometimes try to piece together the story behind the image. The person in the lake (?) – female or male, I’m not sure – to me there seems to be a sense of foreboding about that image, as if that person was going to come to some harm. But it is much more likely to be that it is just someone enjoying an innocent swim (boys playing around on a rope swing?) and that my perception is influenced by my mood and general disposition just now.

ny14.jpg  The couple at a New Years Eve (?) party: I think they’ve staged that kiss for the camera – the man’s mouth may be saying one thing but his left arm is saying something else. The room looks cramped and I get the impression that there was not much money around but I don’t think that was their house – I don’t know why.

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