Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sepia Saturday 32 : Frank's Wanderer


My Sepia Saturday photograph this week was taken by my Uncle Frank. Frank Fieldhouse was an archivist's dream - he recorded dates, places, and names with the thoroughness of an obsessive compulsive. His photographs were collected into neat albums, each album dedicated to a particular holiday or resort. The photographs themselves were not great - he rightly referred to them as "snaps" - but their lack of artistic polish is part of their charm. Frank was regularly guilty of three pitfalls awaiting the keen amateur photographer in those days when cameras were less sophisticated : he had difficulty keeping his horizon horizontal, he frequently included his thumb in his shots, and his intended subject would often be lost in the background. Unintended extras would often feature as the stars in his photographs as can be seen in the above example taken in Hyde Park, London in August 1938.

I suspect that the intended subject in the photograph was Frank's sister - the lady between the posts in the park. But it is the girl inadvertently wandering into the picture - half hidden behind the Fieldhouse Thumb - that captures my whole attention. Some time ago I was trying to write a story set in the 1930s, the main character of which was a young woman, a typical London career girl of the time. In my attempt to describe her I trawled through endless web sites devoted to the  fashions of the 1930s. Somehow I couldn't get her quite right - she was always a museum model rather than a real person. I never finished the story. But having seen Frank's wanderer, I am tempted to return to it. Here is the real woman, caught by chance by my Uncle Frank and his Box Brownie.

Take a look at what everyone else has done for Sepia Saturday 32 - there are links to all the posts on the Sepia Saturday Blog.

23 comments:

  1. Its often the "extras" who appear in a photo that we focus on.Im sure people in ,say,Japan have me as one of their "extras"!
    And thumbs are a universal aspect of many a snap! It's good to leave your fingerprint on a scene !

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  2. I agree, Alan. Often, the real interest in old photographs, is as you describe it.

    Hope you get around to finishing that story. Why am I now thinking 'The 39 Steps'?

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  3. Good Day Alan, What an interesting photo. Most often we see photos in a park with bright sunshine. The rain in this photo makes it all the more intriguing. I hope you do finish your story.

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  4. Not exactly the 39 Steps Martin. It was set on a transatlantic liner in 1933.

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  5. I'm loving the parked cars and the horses in the background. It's a real capture of a different pace of life.

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  6. An interesting picture indeed. The accidental bystanders often do add extra interest, but believe it or not my attention was also grabbed by the horses and riders in the background.

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  7. It's a wonderful old photo, showing hair and dress styles but also the class divide; those riders on Rotten Row behind would have been our Landed Betters.

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  8. She caught my eye too, as did the horse. I think it's a wonderful photograph.

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  9. I think ,today, this photo would be called artistic, with it's painterly wet street and the wonderful accidental vignetting in the corner. It's also so full of mystery. Who are all those people? I want to know all their stories.
    Barbara

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  10. I love the "three pitfalls"--so true. But this is actually quite an interesting & atmospheric photo, Uncle Frank's thumb aside. I've very much enjoyed the fiction you've posted here--here's hoping you finish that story!

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  11. Apart from the thumb, I really like the composition of the photo. And the Wanderer may turn out to be your Muse.

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  12. Despite Uncle Frank's pitfalls as a photographer, I find this a very interesting photograph. There's lots going on in the background -- I'm wondering about the horses on the lawn. Besides the background, this tells a lot about life on that date, such as the weather, the clothing of the period, cars, etc. And then your chosen model on the right: she doesn't like the rain. Look at her hunched shoulders! And the hat, probably for protection, seems to be hiding her. Despite all, I think it's a great photo! (And I think you should highlight it when you post for next week's SS, especially because you never (get to) highlight your own photos.)

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  13. Oh I love these photos, right away I wonder what's outside the view..besides the thumb. The greyish sort of shades from the rainy day are intriguing....I'm looking for Sherlock to appear from the corner next......it's outdone just a foggy day in London town,

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  14. Fabulous - yes, the "incidentals" are what make the shot! I even like the bollards. :-) More, please!

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  15. Excellent. I often think about that when going through old family photos- all the people we have tucked away in boxes and albums, random people that shared a moment with us and are in our peripheral memories. It's neat. She's quite charming - definitely revisit your writing.

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  16. It is just like an old classic movie with drama and mystery. They have a unique quality that they depict his sloppy ways. Just like my mom's box camera shots of me that were all out of focus not knowing she could either turn the knob a little to focus it or back up or go forward. Mystery fog every time she shot one. His are really clear and good contrast.

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  17. Quite a mystery indeed. It looks like she is a professional woman.

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  18. i love looking beyond the subject in pictures to gether the subtle textures of a shot...

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  19. i love this!! so evocative and with so much to see. to think that your uncle took a simple snapshot and we turn it into almost a mystery... time does funny things.

    BTW:
    i was relieved to see others this week presenting more contemporary pics...
    PHEW!!
    i feel better...
    :D~

    HUGZ

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  20. Obsessive compulsive is wonderful when you inherit the albums already done, dated and identified! So very nice! I like the casual 'snaps'.

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  21. The photos are charming. I like especially the young lady with her face in the shadow which makes it mysterious. when I look at my mothers old pictures, sometimes we are all squashed into a corner and the lawn is the masterpiece.

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  22. Maybe, The 39 Ships, then?

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