Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Step Family Unknown


Our photo prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday challenge is a family group who remain unidentified. Amongst my own albums there are no pictures where at least one person isn't known by name, so I have settled for images where strangers have either unintentionally entered the frame, or, as in the case above, been invited to be part of the scene.

In this picture, scanned from a 35mm slide from my Dad's collection, Mum joins an unknown family group, seated in the shade of the steps. The picture of the 'step-family' was taken on the Spanish island of Ibiza in the Balearics. It was my last summer holiday holiday with my parents as I was due to begin my teacher training at college in the September of 1970. I therefore naturally have very fond memories of the trip. It was August and almost unbearably hot, but Mum looks cool enough perched on the steps wearing her 'flip-flops' and sunhat, with earrings chosen to match her dress. I've mentioned before that Dad's artistic eye meant that he sometimes posed the family in interesting settings or at unusual angles, often not looking directly into the camera, as above.

On their trips abroad in the 70s, 80s and 90s Dad would be on the look out for 'the little old lady' as she became known to the family. In Mediterranean countries these women were usually dressed head-to-toe in black and and probably weren't very old at all. I haven't got access to any of those yet, so I've settled for the photo above. I expect Dad thought they made a charming group, but would have hesitated to take a picture of them on their own, so placed Mum in the foreground, thus capturing both his lovely wife and a little local colour.

It's difficult to tell the ages of the two women in black, although I suspect one is the mother and the other the grandmother. Times have changed in the forty odd years since this scene was captured and these days most Spanish women dress in modern styles, with very few wearing black. My mother in her short, vivid pink dress must have been something of a curiosity to this family. I wonder what happened to them. In the intervening years the children would have gone to school, begun work, married and started their own families. It's strange to think that they are very likely parents and could even be grandparents themselves now.


'Little old Lady spotting' for Dad's collection became a family joke and in 1995 when I was in Cyprus, visiting British Army schools as a headteacher, I saw this postcard and couldn't resist sending it to my parents.


For more unknown family groups, or even Little Old Ladies, head over to Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors made of the prompt. Regular Sepians are also invited to join our Facebook group, where age is no barrier, and you can dress in black or vivid pink as the mood takes you, as no-one will know.

32 comments:

  1. It is a very interesting photograph and your Mum looks lovely!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  2. I love the hilarious "Step Family" title...as well as the pictures. Now I'm going to look for Little Old Ladies, and may even pose as one sometime!

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  3. Hello Marilyn:
    We love the idea of 'little old lady' spotting, captured for ever on camera. And, it certainly does add for interest when looking through photographs, even if one cannot always puzzle out who the additional extras actually are.

    We have to say that the heat of the day is very much reflected in your mother's pose, whereas the family in the shadows look almost as cool as cucumbers!!

    Such a witty title to your post!

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  4. A perfect post for Alan's theme this week. Your lovely, Mum is quite the fashion statement and my own Mum would agree! Especially with children's fashions, my mother always thought little ones should be dressed in cheery colors and never, ever long dresses that showed off stubby little feet! I just know your parents were delighted with that thoughtful (little old lady reflection) card too! My own Sepia post will most likely take a strange twist as I never like viewing other posts before I put mine together. It fogs my mind! But, you made me smile with this post!

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  5. I think I would like your father. What a funny thing to do - photograph little old ladies in black. I'll bet you were thrilled when you found that postcard just perfect to send to him. Did he enjoy it?
    Nancy

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  6. Families are so disrespectful :) Picking on dad like that.

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  7. And The Quality Of The Slide Is Really Good.....Phew ! I Feel Hot Just Looking!

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  8. A surprise followed the title; a well composed picture of your mother. I am beginning to build up ideas for photo shoots; I guess 'little old ladies in black' becomes another. You couldn't have found a better postcard for your Dad.

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  9. Your post made me laugh as my husband and I have a tradition begun in Kyoto, Japan when we wanted a photo of a geisha on the street. My husband had me quickly pose as he pretended to snap me. Only half of me shows in the picture of the geisha. Now, whenever we see something interesting, he whispers, "Geisha photo," and I pose, never knowing how much of me will make it to the photo. We must remember to write this down so future generations will not think my husband was a poor photographer!

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  10. That wasn't what I expected when I saw the words "step Family" in your title! Your father had a practical way of capturing local color.

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  11. I like that your dad had a favorite subject to spot and photograph on every holiday. It makes for an interesting story, as demonstrated by the contrast of your mom and the "step family."

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  12. A couple of great ideas here. I've always felt uncomfortable about photographing strangers. What a great solution to drop "one of your own" in front. I also really like the "little old lady" theme.

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  13. A delightful and interesting read as always, Nell! It was my mother who posed us for snaps - there was something fairly Victorian about her photography - right through to the 80's! My dad, however, would have been happy enough to see us pose in a pile anywhere!

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  14. This is such a great contribution to this week's theme. Well done!

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  15. What a great photo. The more that I look at it the more that I see. I love the little sun-worshiper with her bare belly poking out as she smiles for the camera. Your Mom looks like she is really hot and was probably glad for a rest in the shade. I enjoyed the postcard that you sent them too.

    Kathy M.

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  16. Great title. I think the step family is wondering why your mother is sitting out there in the burning sun instead of finding some shade ;)

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  17. What a fun story to go with your picture. Your dad was a creative thinker.

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  18. I too would feel funny photographing strangers .... This is a good solution. Fun post!

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  19. This really is a grand photo with your mom in the bright pink, the old school black behind her, and the young whippersnap of the future strutting her stuff on the left. There's a good story here about to happen.

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  20. I have used exactly the same method to capture photos of interesting people without having to ask them, and therefore run the risk of refusal. Not always an easy task, but it certainly does make holiday shots more interesting.

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  21. I think we should have a "Little old lady in black" theme picture, what do u=you think? I am sure you could supply us with a suitable old photograph. Love the step-pun.

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  22. Mum looks rather warm and the other family looks as if the don,t want to spoil the picture and are posing, or are they just interested in the photographer.

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  23. Very clever! I shall have to remember the trick though with a more modern phrase than 'the little old lady' or 'Geisha photo'.

    I remember reading that some famous photographer of candid photos devised a camera lens with a mirror so that he could point in on direction and still snap the disarmed subject at 90 degrees.

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  24. I must take up your father's cunning plan!

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  25. That's a great looking family!

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  26. Sounds like you had good fun on this holiday especially. Love your Dad's "little old lady" scheme. It adds interest to the picture...did they wonder what on earth was going on. You're right, too, that they probably thought the pink was pretty "out there" or did they wish they too could have some colour.

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  27. Didn't know Spanish women usually wore black in those days. The kids in the photo are a few years older than I, but if they married young and their children married young too, they would possibly be grandparents by now.

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  28. Your father's fascination is amusing and harmless.
    Certainly made for a different kind of family pictures then we usually see.
    Your choice of postcard was hilarious and certainly a good joke for your dad.
    He must have love this.
    Your mom makes me think of my own,
    flashy dresses and accessories to match [always]!!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  29. Your mum looks like she isn't sure whether she is too hot or not! I love 'Little old ladies in black' There are still a few left here in France, although they don't wear the black anymore. I am trying to pluck up the courage to ask them if they would mind if I took their photo!

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  30. Love the pun, the family look to be in on the joke. Your father certainly gives a holiday photo atmosphere.

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  31. Must make the old family photos a lot more interesting to look through when you had a photographer who took the trouble to pose family members in an individual way. I once found a cine film in a jumble sale of someone's holidays. When I dragged out the old 8 mm projector and played it, I couldn't believe that it was a whole lot of movie shots of people standing against backgrounds, as if they were being photographed with a still camera.

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  32. Maybe they are in mourning, but isn't it strange to dress in black in such a warm climate?

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