A Whole Lot of Pictures of A Whole Lot of People Doing A Whole Lot of Nothing

I was at an antique auction yesterday and there was a whole box of photo albums with snapshots all from one family from the 1920s to 1950s.

I was, of course, interested in the lot, and hoped it wouldn’t go for too high of a price.

It didn’t. It closed at $25, but without my bid. Why didn’t I go for it?

Because going through all these photos, there were virtually none where anyone was engaged in any activity. They were all pictures of people standing, sitting, or in some way posing for the camera.

Some were fading but they were for the most part fine condition for a vernacular collection if there were any photos where the people were actually doing anything of interest other than posing. But no, album after album, more poses.

I like photos of people at picnics, playing, standing on their heads, climbing trees, playing games, engaged in life.

I have snapshots like that. Here’s a group of people at a picnic.

A child reading with a relative.

People playing with kittens.

But this collection up for auction was simply documenting what the folks looked like in picture after picture. Not bad pictures, just no variety. I know nothing about these people from these photos other than what they like to wear and how they like to pose.

Years ago, when my brother had children and put together a photo album, my first question to him was, “Do they do anything other than stand next to things?”

These photos reminded me of what snapshots will look like to future generations as people snap selfies of themselves in various places, but all the photos are the same–a person in foreground, a background that changes.

So, I ask you, what do your photos reveal about you and your friends? Your family? Do they tell a story about the wonderful lives you’re living, or are they interruptions from your life, taking time to stand and pose?

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