and scans, Film, 35mm, and scans, photography, Uncategorized

Shoe Box Photography


I’m investigating snapshot photography, what it really means, and it’s value as a school of photography.  I visited my mother today, and nothing to do with this blog or investigation, but suddenly, the magic shoe box of old family photographs was pushed onto my lap.

I always loved browsing through these old photographs.  It seems a shame, that we print far less in the Age of Digital, and that future generations will miss out on this magic.

These photographs were shot on a roll film (120) camera, with narrow frames, that allowed more photographs to be captured.  However, they were printed from the negatives direct onto Ilford paper with no enlargement.  Tiny little prints.  They would have been taken during the mid 1950s.

The top photo is of my parents themselves.  A snapshot or a portrait?  My father was dressed up to the nines.  Apparently at that age, he did like to doll up though, so it may not have been a special event.  Funny, because later in life, he’d as often as not be found in a pair of work overalls.

The composition and framing are cracking.  It may have been my mother’s sister Gladys taking the photograph – using a box camera top viewer.  Not the easiest viewer to use – but look at the composition.  The trees, field, road edge line up perfectly, with the couple right of centre.  Happy accident or did the photographer, with no training from Digital Photography magazine, just know what looked best?

The bottom photo is of my mother’s sister, Gladys, with her fiancé Kenny at Great Yarmouth.  The two couples were having fun taking photographs of each other.  What is the camera that Gladys is holding?  It looks like a simple box camera.  Photography was bringing them joy and happiness, that is what serious photographers today often miss out on.  Snapshot photography was fun, but also recorded moments – the Kodak Moment sometimes.

The more that I look into it, the more that I respect snapshot photography.


5 thoughts on “Shoe Box Photography

  1. Les Murdoch says:

    I think that although many, many more photographs are being taken nowadays, the value being placed on them is conversely much less. For working class folks such as my parents, photography was an expensive pastime. Not a lot of photographs were taken. In fact my dad used to joke that when he got a film developed there were pictures of Christmas celebrations at either end of the film! However the resultant photos were definitely valued. Nowadays it’s so easy to take fill a memory card with images but, as you say, how many are actually printed?

  2. Harry Stevens says:

    I often print B&W prints on A4 paper on my Samsung Laser printer it does quite a fair job, I use the brightest white paper I can get, I have tried to get a thinner true photo paper to use but can’t find one thin enough that will go through. You can get very good results and you can put nine small ones on a A4 size or just one, I use my 120 roll negs after scanning for this . I pull out the negatives I love and they go to my Durst enlarger, but those from the printer are really nice are do make a nice easily made modern day snapshot equivalent..

  3. Blinx says:

    My mother had shoe boxes full of family photographs, and would get them all out every couple of months to show us great uncles and second cousins we didn’t know existed, as well as immediate family. The photos ranged from 19th century studio portraits to seaside snaps in the 1960s.

    The women of the family seem to be the repository of family photographs, so my sister inherited them all and she has disseminated them to her daughters. Those small multiple image prints are one way round the problem of ensuring all sides get a record. I’m not at all confident digital files will be able to be accessed within a generation, never mind the four or five we used to pore over in my mother’s old shoe boxes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s