Stumbling across a site of early 20th century vintage glamour photography, I became mesmerized looking back through time. Letting it soak in that the image was captured about ninety-two years ago was a bit mind-boggling. The twenty something woman glamorized in the photograph above taken around 1920 would be a hundred and ten years plus if she was still among us. Much has changed. Many things remain the same.
The appearance of photographic images was different a hundred years ago. The quality of equipment and techniques in practice then gave most images a dreamy, misty and somewhat surreal look. The sense of seeing through to another time is enhanced by clothing, props and styles that appear rarely antique in an appealingly beautiful way. All together the methods and attributes of a hundred years ago cause the photographs to appear characteristically artful, much like a painting of long ago.
There’s something about seeing an image of someone who lived long ago that conjures intrigue. Questions come to mind such as ”who were you”; “what was your life like?”; “were you happy?”; “what were you thinking when the photo was taken?”; ”what did your voice sound like?”.
Of course, there was plenty of ‘naughty French postcard” type photography of women taken in the early 20th century era that was exploitive. It was nudity simply for the sake of the nakedness done without any artistic bent. At the same time that sort of unappealing photography was being done in Paris, there were people like Man Ray who was making inventive and original works of art with a camera featuring the female form. His photographic work has been copied for a hundred years, but like that of his contemporaries like Dali, in their day the work was completely original, inspired and quite controversial. A good example is Man Ray’s ‘cello back woman’:
It’s interesting how today’s fashion appears contemporary while that of just forty years ago frequently appears old and out of style. However, go back a hundred years and old fashion and style appears “classic”. Clara Bow and her contemporaries emerge from photographs to have had their own unique class when viewed today.
Modern snobbery often gives the impression that fashionable beauty comes only from “now”. For hundreds of years every age has had its fashion of the day, current perceptions of beauty, preferred types of entertainment and ways of perceiving things. Ranging from what now appears elegant and classy to the laughable and near ridiculous, all ages of the past have their own “thing”.
All I have to do is see old photographs of myself in a 70′s wide lapel, baby blue tux with platform shoes on to have a good laugh on my self. I wonder if in a hundred such a photo will be consider that of a classic gentleman. I am grateful for the smile remembering ‘my time’ brings. I am thankful for the slant of perspective that allows me to see into the past and respect what long ago was.
Clocks slay time…
time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels;
only when the clock stops does time come to life.