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Found Snapshots: Hide This Please
October 13, 2010 4:00 PM   Subscribe

"I started collecting found snapshots a few years ago — at swap meets, antique shops and the like — but the thing that got me started wasn’t the photos themselves so much as the writing I’d sometimes find on the backs."
posted by gman (22 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
The digital camera has practically destroyed the bad-picture-you-keep-anyway and taken away generations of hilarity with it.
posted by griphus at 4:05 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Long story short: everyone hates how they look always.
posted by The Whelk at 4:05 PM on October 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Gee....either my relatives were all photogenic or not very bothered by the way they looked. I've never seen negative comments on the backs of old family photos!
posted by non-kneebiter at 4:13 PM on October 13, 2010


I can imagine that these captions made a more interesting set than the dull captions, detailing who was where.

And now we have FaceSpace and whatnot for digital captions on digital pictures, with printscrene for posterity.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:18 PM on October 13, 2010


Jesus, that's depressing. I'm going to imagine a world where the archivist ignored all the photos with positive or neutral captions.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:36 PM on October 13, 2010


Thanks, gman, this is really entertaining.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:42 PM on October 13, 2010


He says at the start that of the % of photos with writing, Most of them are neutral, these are the cherry-picked feel bad about my body ones.
posted by The Whelk at 4:43 PM on October 13, 2010


Now I'm trying to choose which friend I should next greet with, "Why, if it isn't ol' "Pig guts" hisself!"

I actually more wish someone would say it to me.
posted by Beardman at 5:12 PM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The old handwriting is particularly fascinating to look at. Nobody writes in cursive anymore.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:58 PM on October 13, 2010


Nobody writes in cursive anymore.

Thank god.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:41 PM on October 13, 2010


I'm going to imagine a world where the archivist ignored all the photos

then you would live in a world in which I had absolutely nothing to do.
posted by archivist at 8:09 PM on October 13, 2010


The '30s and '40s were remarkable for the almost universal awfulness of their clothing and hair styles. I look at pictures of my aunts and uncles from that period, and they are a lot more attractive now, despite being in their 90s. Women's hair styles, especially, seemed designed to bring out whatever aspect of their faces was worst.

It's a tribute to the human sex drive that any of us were born.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:18 PM on October 13, 2010


This was the first generation of people who commonly saw candid, non-posed pictures of themselves, right? Maybe that explains why they're so critical of how they look in photographs. Like the people first able to commonly hear their recorded voice in -- when, the 60s, with portable reel-to-reel tape recorders? The 70s, with cassette recorders? I know I thought my voice sounded weird first time I played it back at age 11 or so. Now kids grow up with videophones and they hear their own voices all the time.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:29 PM on October 13, 2010


The '30s and '40s were remarkable for the almost universal awfulness of their clothing and hair styles.

As were the 70s and 80s, and the backs of many of the little wallet-sized school pictures in the shoebox in my storage room are inscribed with musings on how horrible the subject feels he or she looks. I remember noticing that when I went through that box during a move a while back, how many people felt that it was most important to fill that little bit of white space with an apology for how awful they looked.

I actually dig the 30s-40s aesthetic though. Everyone went straight from schoolgirl to grandma, with the occasional side trip to Pinup Queen. Totally my gig.
posted by padraigin at 8:40 PM on October 13, 2010



The '30s and '40s were remarkable for the almost universal awfulness of their clothing and hair styles.


Couldnt disagree more.
posted by the cuban at 4:08 AM on October 14, 2010


I feel like I need to go build a time machine and go back to hug all of these people.

...so, if anyone needs me, I'll be out in the garage tinkering. Apologies in advance for any causality wackiness.
posted by aramaic at 5:56 AM on October 14, 2010


The '30s and '40s were remarkable for the almost universal awfulness of their clothing and hair styles.

Wait another 10 years and then look back on the pictures you took today. I guarantee there will be many moments of mortification in the "WTF was I thinking?" vein. On the upside, you will be providing your kids with hours of mirth and merriment.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:06 AM on October 14, 2010


yeh, archivist, i see that my comment makes no sense. what I meant was "jesus that collection was depressing! I'm going to make myself feel better by imagining that this guy ignored hundreds of thousands of photographs on which were written neutral or positive commentary"
posted by crush-onastick at 7:42 AM on October 14, 2010


Henry Rollins has the diagnosis for these people.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:48 AM on October 14, 2010


When I talk about the '30s and '40s, I'm talking about the street fashion, not the stuff you see in period movies and advertisements. Movies and advertisements are products that are carefully massaged to be attractive. Look through these photos and you can see exactly what I'm talking about, these were pretty much typical of the day. There was a uniformity of clothing and hair style, and those styles were not flattering to the average person. That conformity of ugliness didn't start to break down until the late '50s.

The '70s and '80s had some bad stuff, but average people were a bit more likely to be able to find something that flattered their own body and facial shape. The worst excesses of the period were the fads that became near-universal, like the Farrah cut.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:10 AM on October 14, 2010


oops, sorry crush - I was just using your line to make (a completely lame) joke about being "the archivist." I was saying nothing at all about the quality of your comment.
posted by archivist at 12:31 PM on October 14, 2010


I've long been intrigued by this one, which I found in a box of family photos. Written on the back: "I don't know what you think about this picture But never less -- this is the situation that prevails. Clare took it at the wrong time. Jim."
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:10 PM on October 18, 2010


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