Roxanne Turpin sent me a photo that made me think about the transition in photo poses. In most of the images from the 1840s, 1850s and even 1860s technology and our ancestors’ discomfort with being photographed combine to make folks look like they’re in pain. Then suddenly, people started to relax in front of the camera. They had fun with photography. Photo studio props and poses caught sitters in action.
I own a picture of a man with a curious expression on his face. It’s a little odd:
Turning over the image gave me the answer. The photographer’s imprint says the following: “Caricatures, (patented) Ask to see those Funny Pictures taken only at… Theo. F. Chase, Photographer.” The pose was intentional! It was taken about 1880.
Now let’s look at Turpin’s image taken around 1900 (I’m still refining the date) in Fergus Falls, Minn.
It depicts five men playing poker. Their cards and money are on the table. It’s a friendly group of men all smoking cigars. The man in the middle moved a bit and blurred—I wish he hadn’t moved so I could see his odd hat.
In the July 1909 issue of Photographic Topics (published by the Obrig Camera Company) is a brief news item about how amateur photographers could take funny images of their friends:
Freako-Shutter for Funny Photographs. Fits any camera. The Freako-Shutter is a simple, amusing attachment, and everyone who used a camera should have one. It can be fitted to any camera in a few seconds, after the first adjustment. It will cause no end of amusement in making funny pictures of friends, etc. …
Basically, the Freako-Shutter allowed the user to shoot two exposures on the same negative. It first became available in 1903. Users could also shoot stereo images with the attachment.
Taking “funny pictures” is still going strong today. Think about the times you put rabbit ears behind someone’s head. <grin> If you have a funny ancestral photo in your family album, send it to me. I’ll feature in an upcoming post.