Sometimes regional studios throw up very unusual images, as these photographs from Galway and Limerick demonstrate. Although they display the usual studio props and formats, the sitters’ attire and demeanour make for atypical images.
The grandfather and grand-daughter taken by Walter Hopkins, 6 Eglinton Street, Galway, present a compelling image. The old man is definitely not used to having his photograph taken and one feels that this was probably his first time in a photographic studio. His rough homespun suit and stance are from an older Ireland. Perhaps he is from the islands or a worker on the docks? This man was probably born before the Famine and grew up in a very different world to the one in which the young girl will live.
I haven’t been able to find out much about Hopkins and he appears to have practised in the last few decades of the 19th century. He is credited with taking a portrait of the writer, Pádraic Ó Conaire, in the 1890s. I reckon that the photograph above pre-dates this as its logo and card are more crudely executed than on the Ó Conaire picture.
The Limerick carte-de-visite, shows a mother and her four daughters in their finery. The matching hats, skirts and fringed shawls are quite over the top. Their faces look gaunt and drawn and you can definitely see the family similarity. I also love any sort of cheesy studio prop and this fake garden arch is great if somewhat obscured by the five women who are crammed into the photograph. I reckon that the tilted forward hats date the photograph to the early 1870s.
Limerick-born Thomas Bernard ran his photographic studio for at least five decades from the 1870s to the 1910s, after which, I cannot find any record of him. Even though he had ten children it appears that none of them wanted to become photographers!