Once upon a time (but not so very long ago), parents didn’t run around with cameras snapping candid shots that would document every phase of their children’s development. To have one’s picture taken, to have one’s children’s picture taken, was a rare event and a special occasion. It’s not just that people got dressed up in their Sunday best, but also that their photographs had a different purpose and meaning.
Today, in our age of videocams and reality TV, we typically seek to capture the intimate, casual — and apparently spontaneous — detail of everyday life. Even when the scene has been set and the people have been posed, the goal is often to erase all traces of such staginess: as the subject of a photograph, you’re not supposed to look as though you know you’re having your picture taken.
Orville Alexander Moran (1901-1972) and Allan Jerome Moran (1897-1978), sons of Alexander Michael Moran (1872-1939) and Anna Maria Benton (1871-1947). Photograph taken at a studio in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.