Photography: Children's Interest

Figure 1.-- This American photograph was taken in 1890. The two boys, obviously brothers with their father, pose in a photograph with two different cameras on stands. I am guessing that the father was a photographer and, wanting to be remembered with his two boys, got a fourth person to photograph him in a way that would memorialize also his profession. The boys, about 12 (or 13) and 11 respectively, are very elegantly dressed in three-piece knee pants suits. Both suits are single breasted and have matching waistcoasts. Except for the knee pants, they look like little adults. The older boy, standing on the left, wears a gold watch and chain on his waistcoat. The younger boy, sitting, has some sort of boutinere on his lapel (possibly a flower). Both boys wear the standard black long stockings and hightop boots. The hats are interesting as well. The older boy wears a small round cloth cap that sits on the crown of his head, exposing a fair amount of light brown or dark blond hair. The younger boy wears a straw hat with a turned up brim that shows his hair in bangs underneath. There seem to be two other figures in the background--almost indistinguishable because of the distance--in the upper right hand corner of the photograph. The boys both wear white shirts with neckties. They seem to be dressed in children's versions of their father's clothes--except for the father's high-domed felt derby hat. The outdoor setting is obvious. Is the family on some sort of outing in a park or forest?.

Boys were little involved with photography in the 19th century. It was too complicated and too expensive for boys. In fact photography was too complicated for all but the most dedicated hobbiest. Note the cumbersome cameras in the 1890 photograph here (figure 1). Some boys may have been hired as aprentices in photographic studios or assisted their fathers, either studio photographers or hobbiests. For the most part, however, few boys could engage in photography. This changed with the advent of the 20th century. The Brownie and other casmeras that followed, were simple and inexpesive enough for children to use. Here it was mostly boys who took an interest, just like most early professional photographers were men. . Some boys took a real interest in photography. We see images of boys taking photographs and of course they liked being photographed with their cameras. Quite a number of photographs show American boys with cameras.


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Created: 11:11 PM 7/16/2006
Last updated: 11:11 PM 7/16/2006