Woman and Planter
Ready When You Are
We Grow Our Own Potatoes
(This is the owner of the hotel where these photos were taken. He was proud that they grew their own food for the hotel)
Beauty in the Backyard
(all photos are clickable thumbnails, titles are mine)
B T W :
The Photographer Photographed
All of the photos in this post were shot by my grandmother, above, in the early 1920s, with a series of box cameras like the one she is holding in this photo. Sometimes I rue the fact that I can't afford a better digital camera for my art, especially when I see people just taking snapshots with very expensive cameras. But then I think about my grandmother taking these strongly evocative photos with basically a cardboard box, a piece of glass and some film, and I remember that it's not really the machine that makes a photograph, it's the eye behind the camera—and my grandmother had quite an eye! Proof of this is in the negatives. Whenever my grandmother is IN a photo, meaning she handed her camera to someone else to take the photo, they are nowhere near as well-framed or in focus—they are in fact just snapshots. In her hands, the archaic box camera sang like Caruso. But then, I'm biased. : )
I've used many of these photos in my art pieces, and I plan on using all of them at some point. When I'm using her images, I feel as if i'm collaborating with her, even though she died in 1969. I also feel as if I'm bringing these long-gone people back to life in a way, allowing the sun to shine on their faces for the first time in who knows how many years.
These photos were taken in Stony Creek, Connecticut, a tiny shoreline village where my grandmother lived at the time—the same village that hosted LocalColour last year, my art show. Most of the portraits were shot at the Indian Point House Hotel, a grand old wooden resort hotel right on the Long Island Sound, with views of the Thimble Islands. From her diaries it seems she worked there making sure the guests were well-taken care of, organizing the parties and entertainment, and making sure everyone did their jobs well. More importantly, it seems that everyone was a family that worked there, a modern-family inasmuch as many of them weren't married and looked out for each other. My grandmother's first husband died just before my mother was born, and as a result my grandmother had to go to work for the first time. The women that worked for the hotel also took turns watching my mother. "It Takes a Village" as a concept was alive and well in this seaside community almost 100 years ago.
For several more of her vintage portraits please click "Read More" for the jump page.