Follow Friday: Walking Pictures, Ancestry, and Free Stuff

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I love it when I learn something new. I also love it when I learn something new and it directly applies to solving a mystery within my own family history research. This week I learned about "walking pictures." I'd never heard of "walking pictures" before. I started following Brett Payne's blog Photo-Sleuth fairly recently, and his most recent post Spotlight Photos Ltd. - "Walking Pictures" in Derby is fascinating.

"Walking pictures" were a style of photography practiced by street photographers in which the photographer captured ordinary folks as they walked down a city street. Apparently the trend was especially popular from the 1920s through the 1950s. I have a couple of photos in my collection which I suspect are "walking photos." The photo of my mom's cousin, Celina Gzell, I used to illustrate my June article for the Carnival of Genealogy, Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women, may be a walking photo. Given that the photo was taken during World War II in occupied Warsaw I am a little skeptical, but it is a possibility. With the photo above I am less skeptical. The photo is a picture of Celina Gzell walking along a Warsaw street with her mother, Leokadia (Szymanska) Szerejko (Abt. 1895-Abt. 1944) in 1935. I love the photo--both ladies are walking along, arm in arm dressed in fashions typical of the time.

I also read Brett Payne's other posts regarding street photographers and walking photos, Sidewalk Photographers - the Other Side of the Coin and Sidewalk Photographers, Bournemouth & Great Yarmouth. Brett also referenced Sheri Fenley's (The Educated Genealogist) article Friday From the Collectors - Sidewalk Photographers in footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed. Sheri's article was also very interesting.

This week I started following Ancestor's of Mine from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky & Beyond by Kim. I found her thinking in her post When Ancestry Owns the World very much in line with my own regarding Ancestry and Ancestry's acquisition of ProGenealogists.

I was also happy to get a heads-up on good things to come from Family Tree Magazine in DearMyrtle's post, FTM's 101 Best Free Websites 2010. I read Family Tree Magazine and many of the websites that are listed I already use, but I saw quite a few that were new to me.

TGIF. Enjoy the weekend everyone!


Susan Petersen said...

I absolutely love this photograph! Thank you for sharing.

Cynthia Shenette said...

Hi Susan. Thank you so much for your comment. I love this photograph too. How pulled-together the ladies look for an afternoon out shopping. I wished I looked that pulled-together for my afternoon outings at the mall.

Heather Rojo said...

I found some of these "walking photos" amongst my mother-in-laws photographs. They were taken in Madrid, Spain in the 40s and 50s. Apparently the government (under dictator Franco) had strict rules about solicitation, but the photographers were allowed to display photographs already taken of passersby, thus never actually "soliciting" on the sidewalk. I wonder if this was true in other places? Anyways, you started a lively family discussion at the dinner table last night!

Cynthia Shenette said...

Heather, this is really interesting. What I love about this whole blogging thing is I'm learning new things all the time. Two weeks ago I'd never heard of "walking pictures." Now I've learned something about "walking pictures" in Spain. I'm glad my post made for a lively discussion at your dinner table! Thanks for your comment.

Heather Rojo said...

Cynthia, I just did a blog post about a "walking photo" I found from Spain. I mentioned your post, too.

Cynthia Shenette said...

Thank you so much for mentioning my post. I can't wait to read about your "walking photo" from Spain!

Brett Payne said...

Thanks for sharing these, Cynthia. Both of these photographs have all the hall marks of having been taken by street photographers, and I believe they must ideed be "walkies." The positions of the feet are a dead giveaway that they're actually walking, and both are obviously taken in a public street. The chances that they were taken in such a manner by a family member or friend who happened to have a camera handy are pretty slim, I think.

There's also no reason to think that street photographers weren't as active (excuse the double negative) in occupied wartime Poland as they were elsewhere. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they were even more active than at other times, having to seek out customers due to hard economic times.

Regards, Brett

Cynthia Shenette said...

Brett, thanks so much for your comment! I really enjoy reading your blog by the way.

As soon as I read your post on walking pictures it was like a light bulb went off. I immediately thought of the two I mentioned in this post. I was pretty sure about the photo at the beginning of this post, but I was a little more skeptical of one taken in occupied Warsaw. I noticed the position of the feet, but didn't know if the Germans would allow street photographers out and about, possibly inadvertenly (or not) taking pictures of things they perhaps shouldn't.

Thanks for confirming things for me.