Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sepia Saturday 13 : Walking Snaps


Most family albums here in Britain will probably contain a photograph of people walking. During the 1920s and 30s, most popular holiday destinations had a shutter (*) of photographers who would take photographs of family groups as they walked along the sands or promenade and attempt to sell them prints for collection later in the day. The firms that offered this service would have names like "Walking Snaps". I am quite fond of the type of photograph they came up with because they would not be over-posed and they would avoid the "absent photographer" syndrome that afflicts many photographs of the post-studio period of family photography.

The above picture is a good example. The two older people are Abraham and Alice Moore who were featured in my Sepia Saturday post a couple of weeks ago (The Curious Case of The Milliners' Wedding). Here they are older and, from the state of the fur coat on Alive, a little more prosperous. But you could never tell with Alice Moore - perhaps by now she was working in a fur shop and had once again borrowed some of the stock! The man on the right of the photograph is their son Harry and the woman to his right is Annie Elizabeth - my fathers' sister. 

Of the four, Auntie Annie is the only one smiling. This is no great surprise as she always had a finely developed sense of humour and could see the fun in any situation (it was always fatal to go to a funeral with Auntie Annie as she would have you falling about in the church aisle with laughter before the end of the proceedings). I have written about Auntie Annie before : she did not have a particularly happy life. But she would always find humour in any situation - even walking out on a cold morning with her miserable looking parents-in-law in tow.

(*) People may not be aware that the correct collective noun for a group of itinerant photographers is a "shutter of photographers". This is hardly surprising as I have just invented the term.)

SEPIA SATURDAY IS DEVOTED TO EXPLORING OLD PHOTOGRAPHS AND THE STORIES THEY MAY OR MAY NOT TELL. YOU CAN JOIN IN THE QUEST OR SIMPLY READ THE POSTS OF THE OTHER PARTICIPANTS OVER AT THE SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG.

30 comments:

  1. Well, Alan, This group is certainly 'striding out'. They look unstoppable.

    A 'shutter of photographers' is perfect.

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  2. I would certainly like to have know your Aunt Annie! She sounds like my kind of woman.

    I also think a "shutter of photographers" is inspired.

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  3. I love the new SHUTTER diction, it will go into the book of photography jargon.

    Like a still form a movie. Nice. -J

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  4. LOL! Sorry, but your Auntie Annie sounded like a fun person. I had to laugh about the funereal thing you mentioned. I also admire a photographer that could get a clear snap like this one...

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  5. what a sweet and funny story to start my morning.

    I love your new addition to the lexicon - and will start using it immediately.

    aunt annie sounds like my kind of gal! annie sounds a bit like mary poppins, with her belief that every occasion can be better if one injects a bit of fun in it!

    I must have been employed by one of those 'walking snap' services in a previous life as enjoy approaching tourists while they are busy snapping pics of each other asking if they would like me to take a snap of all of them - it is a brazen thing to do, but 9 times out of 10 the tourists are so happy to avoid that aps (another fine addition to our lexicon, alan!) - however, I only need a smile as a wage.

    happy sepia saturday!

    it is always a pleasure to get to know your family!

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  6. Love the casual nature of the shot. A moment in time...

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  7. The walking photos may be popular, but I've never seen one! It's great! Such a nice change from the posed ones. I do remember you talking of your Aunt Annie's sense of humor...so fun!

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  8. I too have never seen a walking photo, I love the unposed, natural composition, a true moment in time.

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  9. A "shutter of photographers" is absolute excellent! I love your inventive nature, Alan!

    What a fantastic photo too. I don't think we have any of those "walking photos" over here. I can't think why especially, but I don't think I've ever seen one. You may have explained why my father was always trying to get shots of us doing something (it often ended up looking seriously contrived). I have one in mind that I must dig up.

    Kat

    P.S. We have some common names in the family - Alice, Annie, Harry. And your Annie reminds me a bit of my grandmother.

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  10. Nice shot! I'm all too familiar with family photographs suffering from the "absent photographer" syndrome you mention. This would often necessitate two slightly different photos. "Hey, where's Uncle Al?" "He's in this other shot... but where's Aunt Josie?"

    And I love the "shutter of photographers" definition. Hey, if they can get away with "a murder of crows"...

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  11. From first to last, this is a great post about your family. Love the history of walking snaps. I also love the line about Alice "borrowing" the fur...Your Auntie Annie sounds like a lovely person. I'll be on the lookout for any shutter of photographers.

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  12. I love your new word! Made me laugh.

    They had these itinerant street photographers in Toronto in the 40s.

    We have several of my mother-in-law and grandparents

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  13. "a shutter of photographers" I like that - although it immediately brought to mind "a murder of crows". Your Aunt Annie sounds wonderful! Interesting bit about walking snaps - I'm going to have to check out if that was a usual practice on this side of the pond.

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  14. That's a great photo and post. Actually, the "walking snaps" was not just a U.K. industry but also the U.S. I have some of my family from the 1930s and 1940s taken by similar roving shutterbugs.

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  15. I'm thinking of having a mauve Sunday. Do you think it will take off?

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  16. I much prefer the naturalness of the walking snap, as opposed to a posed studio photo. Delightful, Alan!

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  17. Did Harry's hat blow away, I wonder?

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  18. Aunt Annie would have made a great team with my Uncle John Irwin whom I'll get to eventually on Sepias. It appears windy but the hats are not blowing off!

    Love the "shutter" explanation....in those days I suspect not many bought the photos. Had to be a hard way to make a living. Good post!

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  19. It is interesting to see the walking photo. Normally it is celebrities that they shoot this way because they won't stop and pose. I love the coat story. I just heard a story about one of my wife's aunts who use to fill her purse of cups and ashtrays as she traveled around the U.S.

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  20. I love the ladies' hats in this photo as well. Not as elegant as the "Millner" photo, but very chic. Annie sounds like she had a great sense of humor.

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  21. Did you know that the collective term for for bloggers is a "Bloog of bloggers"? No? Well that's hardly surprising; cos I just made that up!

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  22. I like the idea you have hear of sharing the story behind the photo. This was quite nice!

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  23. Fun photo--I like the idea of the "walking shots," & as others have said, a "shutter" is well done indeed.

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  24. "A shutter of photographers" that is a real turn of phrase, Alan.

    As for Antie Annie, she sounds wonderful. A sense of humour is surely necessary in this life, something she knew well and took to heart.

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  25. Your Auntie Annie sounds like a character I would have enjoyed knowing. Such fun. I believe I have some 'walking' photos and a recent posting of grandma on a donkey was certainly taken by one of 'those' photographers.

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  26. Purposeful Strides! Another couple of seconds and.........."A Shatter of photographers"?

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  27. wow, that is a good one.

    Yes, I have quite a few "walking" photos - esp. at the seaside. But mine are mostly "sauntering" rather than striding out like this one.

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  28. Alan,
    Thanks for the bit of nastalgia. Your Aunt Annie sounds just like my Aunt Annie. She was my grandmother's sister and lived out in New Mexico. She was always one step ahead on the laughter. What sweet memories. I haven't thought of her for some time. Thanks for a great Sepia Saturday Post. I posted for SS, but forgot to get my name on the list. Have a great week! :) The Bach

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  29. it is always nice to learn something and be entertained
    great picture

    and I guess all that walking kept people in better shape back then too

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  30. Can't wait to tell my photographer friend, Steve about "a shutter of photographers" In fact I can't wait to use it in a sentence.

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