I love Sepia Saturday because it keeps me posting at least once a week when life gets hectic. This week’s prompt features Boadecea (Celtic queen of the Iceni tribe which rebelled against Roman rule in Britain, AD 60 or 61). At least, it features an actress dressed as Boadecea, since photography was invented a couple thousand years after Boadecea’s heroic acts in the name of Britain.

Of course I have lots of pictures in costume, just not many from the 19th century. The amazing Cabinet Card Gallery features tons of cabinet cards of actors and actresses in various costumes. Since I have more modern photos, I thought I’d share one that has been in my family for many years.

Pioneer family

Pioneer family

This photo was incredibly difficult to photograph because the glass reflected every little glare! You can still see my hands and camera, I apologize. It is framed professionally so not possible to remove the photo for scanning.

The photo itself was taken in the late ’70s. Visitors who know anything about historical fashion will immediately question the dating because Mother there is wearing an Edwardian dress and hat! As well you should, this is MY family in the 1970s, hehe. I have done this to you before, Sepians, but this photo was actually taken by a professional photographer and gave us an idea of what it might have been like to sit for a portrait 100 years prior.

We were in a little town somewhere in the Western US, maybe in Colorado. I don’t really remember. The dresses are over our regular clothing and nothing matched. My sister’s dress was a turkey red and mine was a light pink. My mother’s dress was either lavender or light blue. My dad has a black drape over his legs to make it look like he is wearing slacks. I can remember thinking it a long and arduous process because the photographer would come and rearrange a tiny detail, go back and look through the camera, come back and rearrange a tiny detail, etc etc. The original photographers really did think of themselves as artists and arranged photographs with composition and imagery in mind. Then of course we got the giggles. It was very difficult to not smile, in particular for young girls with lots of energy. But also, we were relatively spoiled at this point by instant photographs. The concept of not smiling and holding still were so foreign to us, it was difficult to hold it for just a few minutes.

Regardless, this photograph hung in my parent’s home for 30-some years. When they moved to a smaller home, I took the photo and now it hangs in my house. Most people don’t think it is anything but an antique photo depicting a loving family. I love that my mother had it framed to look antique, as well. One day it will be in actuality an antique photo, haha, but at this point it is a neat family treasure.

For more photos of people in costumes, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

Playing around


20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Auntie Kat
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 11:33:38

    I remember doing this. I was upset because my hat didn’t match not understanding it wouldn’t matter because it was sepia tone. I remember the town we were in. We had sarsaparilla and went into a bar (gasp!) to get it. Maybe Mom remembers where we were.


    • Mrs Marvel
      Jul 20, 2013 @ 20:37:28

      It might have been Virginia City or Silverton? I remember we went to a school house also.


      • Mrs Marvel
        Jul 24, 2013 @ 10:43:54

        Mom said this was in Columbia, CA, the year we drove up highway 49. Maybe ’78? I think that was the year it was so hot, when we were in the Sacramento area.

  2. The Silver Fox
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 12:05:21

    Always wanted to get a shot like this of myself. Never did, though.


  3. Nigel Aspdin (Derby, UK)
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 15:03:33

    …..but you did not explain WHY your parents organised this photo and professional photographer…was it a fancy dress party?


    • Mrs Marvel
      Jul 20, 2013 @ 20:32:48

      Hi Nigel, it was a little photographer’s shop in an historic district and I honestly thing it was spontaneous. The photographer provided the dresses and clothing, props, everything. It was just a neat thing to do while on vacation. :-)


  4. kristin
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 20:09:07

    I think it was just a trip out west and decided to get the photograph. No party. Some of my cousins did this several years ago, dressed like the wild west of yore.


  5. alex daw (@luvviealex)
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 00:57:22

    Tee hee – we did this too as a family several times. So much fun.


  6. Boobook
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 02:32:12

    My kids already think the 70s are antique:)
    What a fun idea.


  7. Jackie
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 06:21:03

    Nowadays we would just photoshop this photo!! I have several of these as well.


  8. Little Nell
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 07:29:33

    These dressed up families are great fun. My family and I dressed as Cornish tin miners once. We wore the costumes over our regular clothes too, so that may answer Nigel’s query, as I think certain places with historical connections often arrange these opportunities.


    • Mrs Marvel
      Jul 20, 2013 @ 20:34:16

      I volunteer at a museum in a “local” ghost town that was once a silver mining town, and they offer the old-timey photos there too. But, since my friends and I are dressed in reproduction clothing we have never availed ourselves of theirs, haha.


  9. Karen S.
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 20:33:15

    I too, enjoy dressing up, and we usually have dress up themes for birthday parties as well! That photo is amazing and I think it’s great how it’s been treasured in your family!


  10. gluepot
    Jul 20, 2013 @ 21:11:22

    I’m not much of a dressup-er, and I always think these fake old-time portraits look just that, fake, even if they have been very well done. I wonder if our looks have changed that much over the last century or so that it’s that obvious.


    • Mrs Marvel
      Jul 24, 2013 @ 10:45:42

      I too have noticed that faces just don’t look the same. We have rounder face, more flesh and less hardship, I think. Eyes have less sorrow and mouths are more suited to smiling than solemnity.


  11. Alan BURNETT
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 09:42:09

    Wonderful photograph. It perfectly illustrates that dates are determined by clothes and poses and hairstyles. Other than those the faces could be timeless


  12. Bob Scotney
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 10:56:40

    I can see why you wanted to show this picture in its frame. I have taken some out of frames before to photograph or scan them, No something to attempt with something as precious as this.


  13. Joe Townsend
    Jul 21, 2013 @ 11:07:01

    I guessing Central City, Colorado. I think the reason these photos look modern is because people who have this done live easier lives and it shows. Probably better lighting too. Shoot it with a polarizing filter and see if you better glare control.


    Jul 22, 2013 @ 02:41:05

    You all had the stern expression, which seems quite an accomplishment in itself.
    This is already and antique. If an era can have a revival, it means all things from such era have become vintage/antique of some kind.


  15. Mike Brubaker
    Jul 22, 2013 @ 19:25:05

    Very clever! I often wish I could recreate the better vintage photographer’s styles with my camera. It not so much the costumes but the facial attitudes and tone that are hard to get right.

    On related note, I’ve wondered if there is much forgery in the antique photo market. Mostly in the tintype and ambrotypes where adding a Civil War pistol or sword can add hundreds if not thousands to a price. The best example is the cover of “Confederates in the Attic” by Tony Horwitz, which shows what looks like a Confederate soldier’s photo but is actually a modern Civil War reenactor. I was 2/3 through the book before I realized it was not an period photo.


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