Sunday, 28 June 2009

Catching up

I'm afraid that a preoccupation with studies and house guests has left me with little time to spend on Photo-Sleuth recently. Although I have tried hard to keep up with reading my favourite, and ever-growing, list of family history and photo-related blogs, I've been disappointed to miss out on participating in a couple of exellent Geneabloggers carnivals, such as Evelyn Yvonne Theriault's A Festival of Postcards (2nd Edition): Main Street.

Three weeks ago I attended a very interesting, informative and thought provoking talk entitled Snapshots - The Vernacular in New Zealand Photography in the Art Lounge of the Auckland Art Gallery given by Ron Brownson, Senior Curator of New Zealand and Pacific Art. Several of the photographs which he used in the accompanying slideshow Ron has also featured in a series of Snapshots on the Auckland Art Gallery staff blog Outpost. A variety of aspects of indigenous amateur photography have been discussed in both blog articles and the talk.

Image © and courtesy of Ron Brownson
Group of friends posed sitting on a truck at the beach, c. 1925
Image © and courtesy of Ron Brownson
Outpost (Auckland Art Gallery Staff blog) - Snapshots 10

Apart from using the photographs as a window onto the way of life in the early to mid-20th Century, Ron analyses the relationship between the photographer and his or her subjects. I am particularly intrigued how he uses this to develop an idea of who the photographer might have been. For example, he comes to the conclusion that the person taking the shot featured above was a woman. I don't know whether I agree with him or not, but it certainly got me thinking more about this photographer-subject relationship.

A large proportion of the snapshots in Ron's collection feature people engaging in recreational activities, often by the beach. I have quite a few images in my own family collection in a similar vein, and hope to feature some of these on Photo-Sleuth in the next few weeks.

On a quite different note I would like to acknowledge and thank George Geder and Judith Richards Schubert for their recognition of my efforts on Photo-Sleuth in the form of Puckerbrush Awards on their respective blogs here and here.

George is a keen photo restoration artist and family historian, using his work with precious family photographs and the telling of stories to make genealogy research more interesting. On his blog George Geder employs a variety of formats to tell these stories and to share his three decades of valuable genealogical knowledge and experience. George provides some details of his background and sources of inspiration in a guest article on footnoteMaven's popular Shades of the Departed blog, in which he talks about the importance of preserving and restoring photographs. He also writes a regular column for Shades, entitled The Healing Brush, in which he reveals some of his restoration secrets. Have a look at the circa 1958 photograph of a young boy with his mother and also "a client's crumbling grandmother" on Gifts of the Ancestors, Part I and Part II - I bet those took a few hours to restore!

Judith's blog Genealogy Traces is another of my regular reads. She is a regular and enthusiastic participant in the various Geneablogger carnivals and, most important to me, uses a wonderful variety of images to illustrate her genealogy research. For example, an unused 1960s colour postcard of the Canal Grande in Venice bought and saved by her mother-in-law was Judith's contribution for the aforementioned Festival of Postcards - Main Street. Scrapbooking is another of Judith's talents, and many of her old family photos have been artfully presented as digital scrapbook pages. I particularly enjoyed her entry for the 74th Carnival of Genealogy: Swimsuit Edition, a snapshot of her pregnant mother perched precariously in a wooden craft of rather rudimentary construction - whether Judith's dad is steadying the boat or perhaps threatening to tip it over, I'm not quite sure.


  1. I think many of us are facing the same wonderful challenge of keeping up with the rich - and constantly growing - world of personal blogs.
    I'm trying to find a natural rhythm that lets me participate in the various carnivals but also visit the various blogs that are taking part in them.
    I usually set aside one evening a week to take a "virtual field trip". So many fine blogs to visit and too little time - it's a wonderful problem to have, don't you think?

  2. Yes, I certainly do agree, Evelyn, and I'm not really complaining. I'm afraid I'm not yet organised well enough to set aside a particular time - besides, my routine varies considerably from day to day, as any stay-at-home mum or dad will verify. It's a question of taking car not to bite off too much, I think.

    Regards and best wishes, Brett


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