Saturday, 24 July 2010

Sepia Saturday: Say Cheese!

Family group photographs are probably the mainstay of most family albums. I've never been a huge fan of these formal assemblies, but it's the easiest way for most of us to document the shape and size of our tribal gatherings.

Frankly, unless we can claim to have lives interesting enough for the likes of Dominique Tarlé to come and live with us for a few months, we'll need to keeping seizing the opportunity to squeeze up a bit, smile and stay 'in shot'.

This picture introduces us to some members of Mag's family (including the girl, herself), taken over the Christmas period, sometime around the late 50s.

Left to right, at the back: Nellie Jemima (Mag's Nan), cousin Pat, Aunt Eileen, May (Mag's Mum), Albert (Mag's Dad - looking as though he's straight off the set of 'The Untouchables').

At the front: Cousin John, Mags, Sheila (Mag's sister.

As ever, I kept scanning this photograph for something beyond the faces and the furniture. Not to mention those snazzy slippers.

I think what strikes me is the level of attention the photographer (Pat's boyfriend, Brian) is getting. No doubt, he's saying things to encourage the smiles, but even those who are still only thinking about smiling, are looking right at him. He has gained that momentary degree of control essential when snapping the family group for posterity.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges


  1. Yes ,he's got their attention (unlike one photo I once took ,were I managed to get every family member looking in a different direction at the same time!)

  2. Well Martin, I have a few comments (random) to make about this post. Firstly, I can't get to your Dominique Tarle link and I'm really curious as to who that is. Secondly, oh yes! Very Elliot Ness! Thirdly, I'm sure if you put a few tots in the mix, there'd be a serious lack of attention! And last, but not least, love those slippers and the name Nellie Jemima (okay that's two things) and what a great shot!


    P.S. Yes, Blogger is extremely fickle, isn't it?
    Have a good weekend!

  3. Not only that, they're all got their eyes open!

  4. Nellie Jemima looks as if she might have a few good stories to tell. And the slippers are wonderrful!

  5. Mags certainly shines like a star in this photo.

  6. Tony - Well, that should have made for an interesting snap. One you probably couldn't pull off twice.

    Kat - Apologies for the dud link. It's mended now. And you're so right about having a couple of tots in there. That would have produced a different result, for sure.

    Meri - You're right. Isn't it strange how wedding groups nearly always have one or two people who seem to be nodding off?

    Vicki - I never knew Nellie, but her life was a tragic one, although, like many war widows of the 1st World War, she tried to get on with life and make the best of it. There's a link to a previous post, that gives a little more background.

    Christine H - Your comment won a smile. It hasn't changed that much.

  7. What a treasure of a photograph! If only every family had one so composed with such attentive subjects! (And I want to see a more recent picture of Mags, please. She's quite lovely at age 8 or 9 or thereabouts. I'm sure she's beautiful but it's always interesting to see the changes in a person's face that comes with time.)

  8. He did get their attention, but I'm not so sure John appreciates having to be in the photo. AN interesting angle of the shot.

  9. Nancy - There's a nice one of her in a fairly recent post - Post-Punk, Parenthood and Promise

    Eric S - I think you're right about John. Maybe he was going through the 'mean and moody' stage.

  10. you're right!
    to get everyone looking at the camera is an achievement

    have a great a weekend

  11. Your are right it is not easy to keep them smiling. We have just made some family photos and on each one there is something odd. One looks backwards, the other pulls up the socks, One yawns, yes, I know it is tedious. Your bunch is very obliging showing their best smiles.

  12. "cousin John" didn't get the memo about the "cheese" factor. cute anyway!!
    and you've stated quite rightly so this custom we have as being "tribal". so it is!!

  13. All eyes wide open was quite a fete of photos taken back then without digital luxury of today. This is quite an assembly, posed, all "squozen" together.

  14. It's fun to imagine what he might have been saying to hold their attention - "for heaven sake look happy and relaxed, there will be people from all over the world looking at this in 50 years)


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