Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Way We Were

(Above) Photographer: George Grantham Bain (1865 - 1944)
Police officer by the Brooklyn Bridge, New York, 1916.
(Above) Anonymous Photo, Black American Barbershop, 1940s
(click on images for a larger view)
(Above) Photographer: John Vachon (1914 - 1975)
Migrant couple living in one room of abandoned house on property of fruit grower, Berrien County, Michigan, 1940.
(Above) Anonymous Photo, Mountain Lion on the Street in the Rain, 1940s
(Above) Anonymous Photo, Rural Family with Nine Children, 1930s. Penned on verso: “9 children, oldest 9 years, 1 set twins, skipped 1 year. Cherokee Co.”
(Above) Photographer: John De Biase (active mid-2oth century)
Black American Children Workers, 1940s
Penned on verso: These are some of the kids whose parents’ strike is being fought by imported strikebreakers. Wages for Starkey workers ranged from 15¢ an hour for 7-year olds to 45¢ for adults.”

ONE OF THE THINGS OLD PHOTOGRAPHS DO FOR ME is to make me stop and re-examine where we are and how far we have come. At the same time, it makes me rethink just how far we need to go. Here is a remarkable set of photographs that speak to various aspects of our American way of life.

These photographs are all for sale on eBay, the selections of James Lamkin—a person who has helped shape and define this entire “vernacular” phenomenon we see today. James was finding and selling snapshots before most. Most importantly—James has an eye like few of his contemporaries. It’s unique. While many sell within the so-called “odd” snapshot genre—James will select an anonymous photo because of it’s sublime magnificence. As far as the history of photography goes, James is able to make these incredible connections to the history of photography.

You never know what you are going to find on his eBay site: this week he has a heart-wrenching, incredible Depression era FSA photograph by WPA photographer John Vachon, whose work is in the Archives of the Library of Congress. Next to that, for comparison— an anonymous snapshot of a family with 9 children from the same time period, a photograph with equal power.

Check out his site for a chance to own a piece of photo history.


Joey said...

James has supplied me with many great pieces. He has an incredible eye!

mari said...

What an amazing set of photographs. And they have survived because they were shot on film! By the way, the Library of Congress has a wonderful collection of photos on Flickr. Looking at them is like browsing a beautiful history book.

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