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Archive for the ‘Irish Snapshot Photography’ Category

When I first saw these 1931 photographs, I was immediately reminded of Arthur Penn’s film Bonnie and Clyde which tells the story of the infamous armed robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Snapshots found by police at the couple’s abandoned hideout in 1934 helped to spread their notoriety and are referenced within the film.There aren’t any guns visible in these images of a day trip to the seaside town of Ballycotton, County Cork, however, the 1930s styles are very similar to those worn by Bonnie and Clyde!

I particularly like the lady’s beret, tweed coat, sheer tights and clutch bag. Her companion wears his suit and Fedora hat with great swagger and charm. These hats were often worn tipped down over one eye at a rakish angle and were favored by American gangsters. Suits with double-breasted jackets and wide trouser legs were very fashionable in the early 1930s.

The Irish snapshots were taken on the 12th of July 1931 and were safely put into a Kodak wallet complete with negatives. The Kodak girl is, as ever, sporting the latest styles and her bobbed hair and white collar are not disimilar to the Ballycotton woman’s.

The promotional wallet mentions an amateur photographic competition with prizes awarded to photographs taken between the 1st of May and the 31st of August 1931.  I have featured Kodak advertising in an earlier post and look forward to seeing a recent book on Kodak ephemera based on the Martha Cooper collection.

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On this beautiful sunny day, I thought that I would post two seaside related snapshots. This group of happy ladies were snapped in the early 1920s somewhere along the Eastern Irish coastline. I love their cloche swimming hats and the little child reaching precariously into the sea in above picture.

I have recently started to follow a blog devoted entirely to beach photographs: Swimming in pictures is based on Ian Phillips’ collection of vintage photographs of people in bathing costumes. It is interesting to note how similar, in both style and composition, beach snapshots were throughout the world.

 

The outfits worn by the ladies splashing about in the Irish sea are remarkably like those in a previous post of mine from another Irish 1920s album. Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museums have a short little piece on bathing costumes from this period. Advertisements  from Selfridge’s and Sparkenhoe show the ideal beachwear styles of the 1920s and prove that the Irish swimmers were very much en trend.

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The monument, which is just visible in the background of this 1950s snapshot, allowed me to pinpoint the photograph’s exact location as being on Hawkins Street. The gothic revival and Celtic monument was erected ca.1906 to commemorate a Dublin Metropolitan Police Constable, Patrick Sheahan, who lost his life in the line of duty. The group stand at the rere of the faux-tudor Gas Company headquarters which was designed by Robinson Keefe. You can see some detailed photographs of it here.

This photograph was rescued from a skip by my good friend, Garry O’Neill, and features in his long awaited book on decades of Dublin street style entitled Where were you? It was published and designed by Niall McCormack of HiTone and will be launched tomorrow in the Gallery of Photography, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar.

On another note, I was delighted to be asked by the excellent Irish history blog Pue’s Occurrences to review a new photography bookRevolution: a photographic history of revolutionary Ireland, 1913-1923 includes some rarely seen images from private and public collections.

I also wrote a little piece for Stacy Waldman’s blog House of Mirth on my favourite Halloween photograph. Stacy’s gathered together some really amazing photographs from collectors and fans of vernacular photography including Barbara Levine, Ron Slattery and Robert E. Jackson.

As if this wasn’t enough photography related activity, I went to Après Paris at the Sugar Club last Thursday. This event was organised by PhotoIreland festival and featured up-dates on Paris Photo and talk of next year’s PhotoIreland festival which I am already looking forward to! 

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As it is nearing the end of the summer, I thought I’d post a couple of holiday related photographs from a stunning little album I bought last year. The album was created by a family who purchased a thatched cottage in Wexford in the mid-1930s and most of the photographs date from the inter-war years. I reckon that they were quite an artistic bunch as the album includes photographs of the murals they painted on the kitchen walls. It also contains several line-drawings, poems and recipes and some great shots like these taken at Kilmichael Point in 1936 and at Roney Rock in 1938.

There is something quintessentially 1930s about the girl’s swimming costume and headgear. The diving shot also evokes the cult of fitness and fresh air which was popular throughout Europe during the era. I hope to post more images from the album soon and to find out who the family were.

On a related note, I was delighted to write a small piece on another beach photograph – this time a snapshot I bought in England – for Stacy Waldman’s blog on vernacular photography. You can see the photograph and some other spectacular examples of snapshot photography here.

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I am going on my holidays tomorrow to County Sligo and hope to have as much fun as the group pictured on this page of a 1920s snapshot album. The family were from middle-class Clontarf and perfectly matched the sector at whom the snapshot camera was marketed. They certainly look like they are enjoying themselves!

Luckily, I have the album in its entirety which allows me to infer much about the family, their friends, interests and concerns. I hate to see album pages being sold separately and removed from their original context. The careful placing together of certain images and the interplay of pages tells us much about the author’s intent. This is explored brilliantly by Barbara Levine in her work Snapshot Chronicles: inventing the American Photo Album.

The bathing attire was right on trend for the 1920s. The women appear to be wearing one-piece costumes called tank suits, a style which was popularized by the Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman. Many of these suits have bold geometric patterns. Bathing caps protected the women’s bobbed hair and mirror the cloche hats of the era.

The pre-Lycra fabric looks like it would definitely sag when wet!

The men’s costumes are also one-piece and the suit at the rear of the picture includes a button closure at the shoulder – a popular design feature during the 1920s.

From elsewhere in the album, I know that the young girl pictured above was called Doreen and that she was about 6 years of age in 1926, dating this snapshot to the late 1920s. I also know that the extended family holidayed in Rossnowlagh and Bundoran, County Donegal, where these photographs might possibly have been taken?

As ever, the snapshots inadvertently capture little details like the girl’s white shoes which are held in the hands of a female relative and the barely visible pioneer pin on the young man’s lapel to the left of this picture. I particularly like the fully suited gentleman who appears to have made no change to his outfit for the seaside trip.

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As a follow on from my last post I have put up another Irish cowboy. This snapshot shows my uncle in 1945 wearing a deluxe cowboy suit which was sent from a relative in Forth Worth, Texas! Hilary O’Kelly wrote about the clothing sent back by emigrants in the following article: ‘Parcels from America: American Clothes in Ireland c. 1930-1980’ in Old Clothes, New Looks; Second Hand Fashion, Berg (2005).

The photograph was taken in the yard of the family home at Haggard Street, Trim, County Meath. I remember visiting this place which had a variety of sheds, chicken coops and outhouses. At the height of the Celtic Tiger, these and the 18th century house were demolished to make way for new apartments which at the time of writing remain unoccupied. Another view of the yard is also shown in the banner for this blog. In this earlier photograph you can see St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland in the background. The Royal Irish Academy’s Historic Atlas provides a great visual overview of the town’s development. 

An exhibition which explored the snapshot within the American context – The Art of the American snapshot, 1880-1978 – was held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington in 2007. In his post on the accompanying book, Bernard Yenelouis, explores many of the issues surrounding the collection and exhibition of snapshots.

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This jumping man comes from an album I recently received from a military historian friend. It belonged to the well-to-do Foley family from North County Dublin and dates from between 1900 and 1920. It is full of great snapshots like this one which is part of a series taken at some sort of camp along the coast of Dublin. The ability to freeze action was called ‘instant photography’ and it became a staple of amateur practice in the early decades of the 20th Century. It reminds me of the iconic Lartigue photograph of his cousin ‘flying’.  This is featured in the BBC’s documentary series The Genius of Photography.

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