Back to work yesterday after the holiday break (thanks for your patience) and the first place I went was the Chelsea Flea Market on 26th street. That has always been a great place to shoot and to just wander around for an afternoon.
At every flea market at seemingly every booth are boxes and boxes of old photos. I rarely sift through them because they are such a chaotic mess (the same reason I have no patience for tie sales).
Well yesterday was so cold I was looking for any reason to stay inside that toasty garage of a flea market. Without thinking I flipped through a few photos in a shallow box bursting with photographs and after a few moments I found this top image.
I was immediately charmed. The style of the clothes, the love of family, the spontaneity of the image all work to capture everything I love about photography. I mean come on, these guys are impeccable – the 3-piece suits, the crease in the pants, the quality of the shoes, the boutonnieres! Who are these people!
I also love that you can tell these are just ordinary family photos of some important event and not some onetime sitting for a professional family photographer. Notice the the negative in the top image is reversed. No suit that nice would have had the breast pocket on the righthand side or the boutonniere there either. Yes, I was feeling very CSI during this discovery. However, box I was looking through was such a jumbled mess that I never thought i would find another image from this family but after a few more handfuls of images I found another image, and then another, and another. It was so exciting having this human story unfolding in front of my eyes. I was trying to find clues that would tie them together, like the facade of the building in the 2nd and 5th picture.
Of course you start creating your own fantasy about these people. Where are they from? Are any of them still alive? Was the style of this generation carried on to the next? Where did they shop? What did style and fashion mean to them and how did it help them fit in or alienate them from their neighbors?
The not knowing actually is more fun, it gives you so much more freedom to imagine.
I LOVE old photos so don’t be surprised if this becomes a more regular feature on this blog.
I love that these images were taken over several years. This gentleman looks several years younger here than in the top photo. It gives me hope that somewhere out there are even more photos from this family waiting to be discovered. I asked the woman I bought these from to search her other boxes of photos at home to see if she had anymore. I’ll keep you posted.