Saturday, March 02, 2013

Sepia Saturday 166 : Box Brownie Impressionism


This photograph is like something that Claude Monet would have taken with a cheap camera : Box Brownie Impressionism. As with all such works we are wanting just a feel of the moment captured by the interplay of light and dark, detail and generality. It is a group of wrapping mechanics from the Halifax factory of toffee makers' John Mackintosh & Sons on a trip to Norwich to visit the firms' A.J. Caley chocolate manufacturing factory. This was no pleasure trip : they were there to see the wrapping machines and the cardboard box presses used in that arm of the business. The fact that the artist has just hinted that the coach may have been stopped outside the Norwich Hippodrome adds a thread of mystery and uncertainty to such a staid post-war study. 

The photograph drips with memories. That is Terry Dickinson standing second from the left. I watched England win the World Cup in his front room in 1966. That is Ralph Steadman standing third from the right: my father and I would often call in at his house for a cup of tea as we went for weekend walks down the Shibden Valley. And that is my father in front on the right - with a smile on his face that measures the loss I still feel at his death. 

Photographs don't need to be perfect as long as they can be tools for our memories and emotions.

Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week shows a woman working at a machine making paper boxes. My father spent most of his working life maintaining the machines that made boxes. And he used to have a Kodak Box Brownie camera which was the source of many of the old photographs I still have. You can visit other Sepia Saturday participating blogs and see what other people have done with the theme image by going to the SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG and following the various links.

29 comments:

  1. Snapshots and wordshots - so true that often a photo conjures up just little flashes of memories, no full story, no exhaustive biography, just a moment in time.

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  2. I love the sentence, Photographs don't need to be perfectas long as they can be tools for our memories and emotions. I posted an old photo recently which did bring back some funny memories. You may get a giggle too:
    http://diane-adventurebeforedementia.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/chased-by-pubic-hairs.html

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  3. Much more than just a moment in time. They are sometimes a trigger - ...great aunt Mim, didn't she have a son that joined the French Foreign.......drove a bicycle over the Khyber Pass........married a woman from Englefield Green......what became of little Norris....

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  4. You are so right! After all one of the most precious reasons we take photos are for the constant memory of them! What better photo is there then the one that "drips" with thoughts and reflections, and all those other not so important shots we may take today, that we study and finally determine, yes, this can be deleted- then off it goes into the trash can of never to be seen again....but one must be careful that they won't ever want it back!

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  5. Can't beat a plastic lens for contrast and definition. These old cameras are seeing a kind of cult revival now, especially with the Holga which uses 120 film. What goes around, comes around.

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  6. Poignant but beautifully written Alan. The way that you single out the people in the photograph for a special memory; it's almost a poem.

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  7. You're right about that - photos not having to be perfect to be able to carry memories.

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  8. Oh, by the way... Funny coincidence, it was only one or two weeks ago that I came across and looked up what a Brownie camera was. What brought it up was that I was reading a classic children's book, The House of Arden by Edith Nesbit - in which two children bring a camera with them into the Past.

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  9. This is a beautifully written post, dripping with memories and fine memories they are. I love your inclusion of them... and the fact that some of these men are blurred adds an existential, almost metaphysical note about the disappearance of people from our lives, and, ultimately, even from our memories... really, really lovely.

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  10. I have tweeted this post... I love it.

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  11. Many of these old cameras took a good picture. I'm surprised to see this one is somewhat unclear. You tell an excellent story with your old photos.

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  12. This photo is no worse than what gets digitally "snapped' by a modern cellphone camera. Having used various Kodak Brownies from my father's camera collection, their simplicity still required some aiming skill as the little viewfinder windows could get bad reflections and they were off center. I suppose you could fix it in Photoshop, but really it's your writing that corrects the tilt and brings it back into focus.

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  13. The impressionist feel enhances this picture, especially now that you have added the personal memories. Excellent!

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  14. So true. I have many imperfect photos, but that doesn't take away from the memories they hold.

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  15. I love the photo. I never knew there was a whole team of people dedicated to the art of sweet wrapping. I shall remove the wrappers with more thought it future!

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  16. When I saw your photo my eyes immediately went to the smiling face which turned out to be your dad. This is a very nice photo. I can feel your loss in the words you type. Loss, something we all share.
    QMM

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  17. There's no much life in this photo - the tilt, the blur,almost like a still from a movie!

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  18. The blurriness reminds me of those Instragram photos that I keep seeing on Facebook, or I think it's something like that. Whatever the tool is, it has exactly that effect and makes the scene almost appear is if it is from Toyland.

    Groups in front of a bus, or inside a bus - another category that I have a few of.

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  19. Your post proves that the memories can be more important than the quality of the picture.

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  20. Such precious memories!

    "Photographs don't need to be perfect as long as they can be tools for our memories and emotions." May I quote you on that? I have shared the feeling for a time and I'm glad someone finally said it. Thanks.

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    1. Of course you can quote me - whenever you like.

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  21. Alan,My Sentiments Exactly.Photographs Are A Means To An End..They Look Like They Are About To Burst Into Song !

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  22. Everybody looks so happy to be together, and pictures are a great reminder of the good times.

    I'll be back next Saturday. :-)

    Kathy M.

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  23. You nearly got it right, but a few corrections...

    1st Left Tom O'Connor, 2nd Left Terry Dickinson, 3rd Left "Pea" (Labourer Mechanics Shop), 4th Left ? (but might be Walt Hardy - foreman mechanics shop), 5th Left, Albert, 6th Left ?, 7th Left Bob Nolan, 8th Left ?, 9th Left Josums (also one-time landlord of the Omnibus Public House at Queeensbury).

    From one who was once an apprentice in the mechanics shop.

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  24. Were I where you are, I'd pay you a pint and listen to those stories.
    I sense you have much to say...
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  25. Even if it wasn't a pleasure trip, they look happy.

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  26. They look as though they have enjoyed their day away from the usual work; the misty look goes perfectly with your beautiful words.

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  27. Love your sentence "Photographs don't need to be perfect as long as they can be tools for our memories and emotions" - it summarises so much of what Sepia Saturday is all about and deserves to have headline status.

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