Friday, November 16, 2012

Sepia Saturday 152 : Children Reading Photograph


For Sepia Saturday 152, the theme image shows a group of school children intent of reading their library books. I wanted to use one of my old postcards this week so I started searching through them looking for children reading. The closest I could find was the above photographs which has children and it has books, but there is a certain passivity : they are posing for the camera rather than reading their books. I rather suspect that the children in the theme photograph were posing as well, the teacher having just told them "now, make it look as though you are reading your books".

My children (and I have no idea who they are or where they are or, indeed, when they were) may be passive in relation to their schoolbooks, but there is nothing passive about their faces. My selective enlargement focuses on just six of them, but you could repeat the process again and again and come up with energetic face after energetic face. You could look for happiness and sadness, hopes and fears, triumphs and disasters, and find examples of each. Each of the thirty faces is a life about to be led, a story about to be told, a drama about to be enacted. Who needs books when there is a photograph to be read?


You can read more old photographs by going over to the Sepia Saturday Blog and following the links

24 comments:

  1. You are right, those faces are bursting with lives to be led.

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  2. Oh, Alan, this is an absolutely beautiful post. I was drawn immediately to that same "outtake." I love your description of their lives as they are about to unfold.... Very poignant.

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  3. All those bony knees and bright faces do invite us to study this photo. But I'm also wondering when we abandoned the lecture hall seating as shown in this picture for individual desks? Now schools, especially colleges, are returning to lecture hall seating. It's a good move.

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  4. Those kids have quite a variety of expressions. They definitely look more animated than the children in most school photos. The photographer must have been trying to get natural expressions instead of stiff poses.

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  5. To me the long benches they sit on and long tables are what I find interesting. The physical layout is from another age. Now kids are always upbeat and full of it and it shows in this photo.

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  6. It's kind of sad though because for many of them, their stories have already been told. I'm sure they never dreamed that someone like you would be reviving them for the world at large.

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  7. Wonderful photo and evocative text too. It's hard to date the photo. I notice there seem to be a lot more boys than girls. I wonder if that is just coincidence or if it was in the days when girls didn't get sent to school.

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  8. How right Kat is about all the stories of these children have been lived and maybe written down. Yes they are looking their most spirited as directed, I am sure.
    QMM

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  9. Oh yes, this is a great photograph and your thoughts on it as well. I would love to know the stories lived by those lively faces.

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  10. Have you noticed how clothes and shoes looked more substantial in days of yore. Can't imagine any of my clothes being passed to my children, but in those days it was common - they lasted decades.

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  11. Nice post, Alan. You've reminded me of the perils of short trousers - scraped knees that turned blue in winter.

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  12. Love the classroom photos from that era! The schoolteacher must have advised them to hold still when having their photos taken, didn't photographers back then take photos longer than a minute? I just read that before from a Great America photo booth and now I'm wondering if that's accurate. Have same photos to share next time in the following SS episodes. Have a great weekend!

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  13. Alan, this photo made me smile! Such great faces, such involvement...and I just love the little guy on the right (in the enlargement of six kids) with his necktie and his specs!

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  14. I can imagine the instruction they were given, "Sit still. Shoulders back!" Love that tie.

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  15. And no-one secretly doing a "victory sign" behind someone else's head!

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  16. Those little girls, clearly in the minority, probably learned more of value about life - like defending themselves and bonding together against the enemy "boys", than they could possibly have learned in the classroom. You can't help but wonder how their lives turned out.

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  17. I've always loved reading photos and have spent probably way too much time doing so. All these kids look so curious about the person watching them as the photographer, and I enjoy thinking of the viewer just as much as those being viewed.
    Very nice post Alan.

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  18. Oh yes the expressions on those faces and what will happen next. I was amused at how well posed, all sitting up straight and the hands visible were all folded together innocently. A good expansion of reading into the photos.

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  19. Interesting photo. The little girl in the front row is so cute. But that little boy in the second row top left has such a funny face. Either he was caught off guard or was making a funny face on purpose.

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  20. In a way, give me a child of seven and I give you the man or woman.

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  21. I agree with Titania, these children are the very best age for predicting their future from a photo. I think one can also predict their responses to a direct question.

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  22. Children this age have not learned to dissemble giving us the perfect view of the soul inside.

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  23. Two with their eyes closed, as usual...
    and one that especially amuses me,
    in the back, row before last on the left.
    He looks almost... surprised!!
    You have great kids!!
    :D~
    HUGZ

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