Pictures of my childhood days had to be made outdoors as flash cameras were not perfected to be widely available. Multiple exposures were out of the question because the film and developing had to be paid for from the very limited money supply. Therefore, each snapshot was “staged and posed” to present the best possible result.
Backgrounds were often a flowering plant that made our yard look pretty. Beside the canna bed was a popular spot to stand. Other backgrounds repeated in my pictures include a big dusty miller bush by the garden fence, the Cape jasmine growing and blooming in a five-gallon bucket and iris along the edge of the yard. The pictures were not in color, but we have the color in our memory.
Special spots were under the grape arbor where filtered shadows fell on our faces and in front of the lattice arbor where a rambling rose showed off its beauty.
More fun to loot at are the unintended features of backgrounds. Laundry hanging on the clothesline; the cellar house, cistern house and other outbuildings that figured in the everyday chores and activities of that time; and ladders or sawhorses that indicated work was going on. A chicken was often walking across the yard behind us and our pet dog or cat was laying nearby, if not dangling from my arms.
A porch was a common place for organizing a group photo. On the front porch, cane bottom chairs an the edge of a big pot of petunias were caught. On the back porch, milk buckets and strainer hung by nails on the wall as did straw hats, maybe a pair of overalls and those zinc washtubs.
A car was a prominent status symbol. When a car was around, photo subjects stood on the running board or leaned against the side in a proud pose.
The Chinese proverb “One picture is worth more than a thousand words” indeed holds true.