Thursday, 27 June 2013

Secret Histories


Photographs can be such a personal thing, each time I come away from my local antiques centre with a couple of old pictures I feel as though I've been let in on a secret somehow - that wherever the subjects ended up I hold a moment of their history in my hands. Curiosity means I tend to start decoding before I even get them home; how old does she look? What clues do her clothes give to the decade? What does her expression say about her? 

There is only so much to decipher by looking, the rest is a mystery, and that is where the beauty lies for me. I've always had an overactive imagination so I let it loose and see where it takes me; sometimes I'll invent elaborate family trees and a rich backstory other times a little summary of important points to note - prefers lemon curd to jam, likes to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the ducks with the crust of her sandwich. Posed portraits are lovely to look at and I own quite a few but the exciting finds are images captured by accident. Rebecca caught my eye - the outtakes especially - her expressions make me think there is plenty going on beneath the surface and infinite possibilities as to her story. I found Grace, Katherine and Rebecca in the same box and I'd like to imagine they know one another - even if the decades don't quite match up!

It could be the Downton Abbey fan in me but images of life below stairs are some of my favourites, there is so much to surmise in the picture of the girls grouped around the table having tea and the coat hung on the back of the door feels spectre like - very ghost-at-the-feast. I'd love to know what you think the story is behind that scene!

30 comments:

  1. I always like to wonder whether the subjects of old photographs ever thought about how long said photographs would be around for, where they would end up and what we people of the future might think when we look at them. It's all so fascinating. I love the last one around the table, it seems so alive somehow. x

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  2. Just caught up on some posts I've missed and, as usual, feel totally spellbound and full of adoration for your blog. Your writing is so, so beautiful (you are so talented and have such a way with words) and you never fail to make me smile with your beautiful finds and creative eye. Thankyou! xo

    Rosie | A Rosie Outlook

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  3. Old photographs fascinate me. My grandparents are moving next month after living in their home for over 50 years. They have uncovered some amazing photographs that they are still trying to decipher where they're from etc. It's all so interesting! Love your posts more and more! x

    LittleGlitter.org

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  4. Fabulous post - just love the idea of hidden stories. I'm sure every woman has at least one!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  5. They are definately lovely photographs, I love looking through old pictures as well, you can imagine all sorts of stories and lives!
    I love looking at how places have changed as well, often the architecture, fashions and transport are equally fascinating. x

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  6. This is such a lovely idea what you do. It's amazing that each of those photos holds so many memories for someone but we are all unaware and can only guess what they were thinking that very moment the photo was taken!

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  7. when you posted about Ephemera a while ago it motivated me to have a look out for old photos too and now you've got me into them! so thanks for that I have been really enjoying keeping an eye out for them!

    I really like the set of 'rebecca' photos - they say a lot! x

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  8. These photos give me the collywobbles, but not in a bad way, just in a "they still seem so present" kind of way. Like the girl's stories are still hovering somewhere out there, asking to be remembered and incredulous that they have been forgotten because it goes against our nature to imagine that we would ever be forgotten. I find the bottom photos to be so strange, who would be taking photos of those girls and what for? The girl standing up looks happy, but the girls sitting around the table look resigned. Something seems fishy. There's a definite mystery there.

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  9. I totally agree. When I see an pld photo so many thoughts come into my mind about the story you can interpret and all the mysteries which we will never fully know.

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  10. Old photographs have a certain sense of magic about them, maybe it's the mystery, I'm not sure. I recently came across an old photograph of my mama and I'm so in love with it I'm thinking of getting it tattooed on me! <3

    Jennie xo | sailorjennie.com

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  11. so beautiful http://differentcands.blogspot.kr/

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  12. what a beautiful blog all these treasure and treats you post about i will definitely be dropping by again.

    These photographs are amazing I like your idea of thinking about the lives of the people in them and what they were doing that day there picture was taken what they sat and talked about over dinner...facsinating!

    I am so glad i found your blog.

    beautiesunlocked.blogspot.co.uk

    Lx

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  13. I wonder how the younger generation will react when our photographs are found in their hands (that's if digital photograph hasn't completely taken over!!) so interesting to see all those vintage beauties! I bet you have so much fun making up little background stories behind each one :) I have some old vintage horses photographs which I found in a equine book once, they're such treasures! Xxx

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  14. These photos are fantastic! I always pick up a couple every time I go antique shopping. I love coming up with stories for them too! I suppose that makes us day dreamers ;)

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  15. I think the girls sitting at the table having tea all know something they shouldn't and are wrestling with what to do with it. I do what you do too - make up elaborate stories that accompany beautiful old photographs. Somehow, I think it gives them more meaning ... well, to me, anyway.

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  16. this is honestly such a lovely post- i get what you mean it's like you're sharing something/seeing something they ncouldn't even imagine happening.

    i often wonder how many stranger's photos i'm in and how many people will see them...especially with the likes of facebook- YIKES!

    such a shame people print photos less now

    xx

    girl from the third floor

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  17. Just found you...so glad i did...except that post about Belle has me sobbing into my coffee....!!
    bestest to you and yours this sunny saturday...

    Daisy j

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  18. your blog is adorable! so glad i found it, i followed you on blogger and bloglovin so i wont miss any of your posts ♥

    http://gypsywardrobe.blogspot.com.au/

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  19. I always come across lots of vintage photos at estate sales - it always saddens me that the family didn't feel the need to keep them - like the time I found that vintage compact photo album. Kinda felt like I should of double checked it was okay to buy it. I don't often pick them up (mainly only if they are in my 1930's - 1940's era) as they tend to freak Joe out a little (nameless faces and peering eyes apparently).

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  20. Great imagination! Tea and nostalgia, what a marvellous combination!

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  21. I collect them to and always wonder..who were they ..was their life filled with happiness..and what was their biggest accomplishment..most remain a mystery..but at least they are not sitting in an antique shop any longer. I try to place as many photos as I can:)

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  22. this is the coolest post, ever- i LOVE that you make up whole histories for the photos! i've always been intrigued by those photos for sale for that same reason- there's so much mystery behind them and you're looking at something personal. i loved reading this!!

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

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  23. Ah, I love old photos! These pictures are so inspiring!

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  24. Hello, I think this is a lovely post overall but I have a specific question about the necklace with the Rebecca pictures... can you tell me where it came from? I have something almost identical; my Grandma gave it to me to wear on my Wedding day but she has absolutely no memory of how she aquired it. I'd love to know!
    Emma

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  25. I just stumbled upon your site. I absolutely love old photos - these are gorgeous!

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  26. You are so lucky to have all those vintage shops and bookstores and flea markets... In Poland is not so common and I don't have a chance to imagine anyone's secret story.

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  27. I love old photos, I have recently been given a box with some letters, birthday cards, post cards and other pieces of emphera by my father in law. He found the box wheLon he used to work on the dust bin lorries. The box was found in Devon, the addresses are from South London. I am attempting to piece it together. Love the blog.

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