Autumn 2017

Autumn 2017

Thursday, March 17, 2016

vintage street photography

Street Photography.  How many have heard of it?  I follow a Facebook page of amateur photographers in the Maritimes which I enjoy immensely and they recently had the theme of 'street photography'.  People shared all sorts of street photos from streets themselves, to traffic, people, cars and parades.  It was the photos with people that I liked best and there is a photographer in Moncton who captures actual street in those who live on the his photos.  They are beautiful.  He gets to know these people on a personal level and asks to take their photos.  He edits them beautifully and brings out their true character and personality.  

There are many well known street photographers around the world and in today's world it is a touchy thing to do with privacy issues even though 'big brother' is watching all the time with cameras everywhere!  But to ask a person to take their photo is a polite thing to do I guess, although really, the street is a public place so if you don't want your picture taken what do you do?  Stay home?  It's a touchy issue isn't it.

A friend posted a great 'street photo' of her and her fiancé taken in 1971 in Calgary, Alberta.  Apparently there was a photographer set up on a busy downtown sidewalk that did this a lot in that city and in Edmonton too.  Another friend of hers shared a photo from a street photographer taken in the 1930's which reminded me of some old photos I had.  I finally figured out why the 3 photos I have were taken on a busy sidewalk in Calgary sometime in the late 30's or early 40's.  

Someone wrote "Belle and yours truly" on the back of this one.
My mother's mother and grandmother came from Scotland in the early 1900's and the family moved to Calgary.  I have a few photos of family members and even their house inside - I suppose they were showing folks out east what it looked like - but I don't have a clue who anyone is in the photos.  I know none of these ladies is my grandmother.  At least I don't think so.  She made her home in rural New Brunswick living on a farm and raised 4 children.  I wonder if she visited her relatives in Calgary and perhaps she is in the photos.  I studied them carefully to see details like the buildings in the background and the style of clothes, including hats and real fur animals around their necks, and the 'proper' footwear.  I remember my other grandmother and my great aunt wearing the black or brown heeled oxfords too.  

I wonder who the child is in this photo too.  The same lady is in all three photographs.  They appear to be taken in different seasons.

In the first and last photos there is a building in the background with "MacLean Block" painted on it.  I Googled that and found there to be a MacLean Block in both Calgary and Edmonton.  I'm guessing this was Calgary though as that is where they lived.  I also searched for street photography in the 1930's and 40's for both cities and found lots of photos although not all were in Calgary and Edmonton.  One interesting photo was of a man set up at a small table on the sidewalk with his camera - one of those old ones with a big round flash attached - dated in the late 30's.  Apparently these photographers took the photos and, I'm assuming, stopped you to get your name and address so he could mail the photos to you.  There are numbers written in pencil on the back of each photo.  One would have to be very trusting to give out their address to a stranger I'd think - even in those days.  

I find this all to be very interesting and am wondering if anyone out there has old photos of this sort in an album or shoebox and didn't realize it.  If anyone knows anything more on this topic, especially for Calgary, I'd love for you to leave a comment.

The greater mystery is that I may have family in Calgary that I don't even know - other than our daughter and family who we visit once or twice a year.  It is sad how families lose touch over time and get forgotten about.  

This is downtown Calgary taken in February 2015.  Stephen Ave. is the main street and is mostly a pedestrian 'mall' with buildings old and new.  

My family - I had permission for this one.  :)

A lot of the old business are now new ones.  Lots of eateries on this street.

The older buildings are overshadowed by the new skyscrapers today.

I did not need permission from these two gentlemen to take their picture!  

But, you know, I was very careful not to get peoples faces in the photos.  Mind you it was a very cold and windy day that day so there weren't many on the street even at noon hour.  There was some action though.  Some young men exited a building chasing another young man and shouting obscenities at him and basically telling him to stay out of their territory.  A gang up right in broad daylight!  It was kind of scary and I didn't take pictures as I was afraid they'd see me.  But, I bet they were caught on video cameras from buildings along the street.  And I bet I was caught too, taking photos of those buildings.  Ha!'re on (Candid) Camera!! 

That's Murray in the middle - always joking around for the camera!

Thanks for visiting today.  I hope you're having a wonderful week!



  1. I love looking at photographs, but I don't want to be in any. Ha! Yup. Sticky wicket for sure. I see that Murray has no problem being photographed. What a card and you can tell him I said so. Whoever that lady is, she's got to be important to your family because she shows up at least three times. Hope that somehow you might find out who she is. My grandfather's father came from Scotland in the late 1800s, married a Maine girl, and settled in NB on a farm. It's the homestead I have spoken of often. Now perhaps we'll share surnames behind the scenes and it will explain a lot to you. Ha! =D And we might find out that we are distant cousins after all. Yes, it is sad how families lose touch, but I suppose that it has to be. How could we possibly embrace them all?

    Can't leave off without mentioning that it's thunderstorming here today.

  2. That is curious. I usually am the one taking the photos, so I'm rarely in a photograph.

    You might be in for brief downpours with hail and sleet tomorrow judging by what's passed through here today.

  3. What an interesting post, Pamela. I love looking at old photos and wonder who the people are and how they got to be in the stack of photos. It's a reminder to label photos well. I'm very bad at that.
    Murray is a card! Looks like he was having fun with the photo shoot.

  4. Lovely post. And funny conclusion:"'re on (Candid) Camera!!" :)
    Well, in these days, taking photos is so easy, with this tech, lots of photo cameras... The old photos are full of nostalgia! So wonderful captured... I love taking pictures of nature, flowers, landscapes, various things, positive things...
    Lovely weekend to you!

  5. I feel when I'm out to photograph people I should wear a sign around my neck: "May I take your picture?"

  6. What an interesting topic. I don't have any old photos with street photography, although I do have a lot of old pictures, mostly of my ancestors. Believe me, I treasure those.
    I'm very "shy" when it comes to taking pictures of strangers, public places or not. If I take pictures of buildings or a scene and they walk in there, fine, no problem. But specifically taking pictures of people is different, and I usually don't do it. Or I take the pictures from an angle where their faces can't be recognized.

  7. So interesting! Wonderful to see these amazing old photos and to hear your thoughts and memories too! xx

  8. Wonderful post and photos Pamela . Yes if Papa and I are to take folks photos on the streets we get them to sign a Model release form and explain why we the forms with in our camera back packs also like from any type of event as such like our horse club we photograph for as a written permission that we can use them in the photos if we choose If they are on the street and part of the street scenery by law we don't have to have permission as it is considered a public place unless we are going to zone in on them and show their faces it can be a tricky situation . Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

  9. Interesting pictures! Should check out my own ones sometime. I always go by the rule that if it is a person whose face is recognizable, you need their permission.

  10. Love those vintage photos Pam! I often want to take people's photos "on the streets" when I travel, but am usually hesitant. The exception is children as they usually love to have their photo taken. Of course I always ask the parents permission. Wish I was "braver"...

  11. Wonderful post Pamela . . .
    I wrote a long comment about "my thing" of people watching . . .
    (and then when I clicked to post it, if vanished, happening more and more of late.)
    (Trying again . . .)
    Not a photographer like you . . . but I have "clicked" many a picture
    in my mind through the years.
    I enjoyed this post very much. Loved the vintage, black and white, background, buildings,
    signage, store fronts, people.
    I hope you receive some responses from Calgary, Edmonton people.

  12. Such a fun and interesting post! And mysterious, since you don't know who the ladies are. I learned two new terms reading this today: "gang up" and street photography. I like to take pictures of buildings in a city … and like you, the back or side of people, not their faces.

  13. You have some curious photos there Pam. I love a good mystery, but I like conclusive answers even better. I have some similar photos of my mother before she was married, and looking very stylish walking along a street in Hamilton, Ontario. I never understood the photos since they look very candid. After reading this post, I wonder if they were taken by a street photographer. Curiouser and curiouser! Maybe one day the stories behind your photos' will be known to you.

  14. Pam, those are some great old sure would be interesting to know if you had any connections with them! But your photos of the city are FABULOUS! So much detail and wonderful lighting! Great post!

  15. I always see all kinds of vintage photos at our antique barn and it sure makes you wonder about the people in them.
    It would be difficult to take full frontal shots of people, even with their permission; I'd rather capture flowers. :-)

  16. Wonderful photos, the old and the new ones!
    Streets would be great places for taking photos, but since I would prefer to walk on the street without being photographed, I don't take photos of other people either. :)
    By the way, I tried to make clear to myself if in English one walks on/in/along/down the street, but the issue looked terribly complicated...
    Have a lovely weekend!

  17. How interesting, street photography - I've never heard of it! I enjoyed looking at the mystery pictures you have... I know my parents have most of our family pictures, and maybe someday I'll get a chance to go through them, and make sure they are all labeled. In fact, I think I will mention that to them. It would be so nice to know the connections for a picture, for sure!

    Hope you are staying warm and cozy with all the snow headed your way... my heart goes out to all of you up there. Hugs to you today dear Pamela :)

  18. I am always aware of people in a photo, but then you get those ones that will just HAVE to get in the photo knowing full well that you are setting one up. I can remember the best one I took was of a street entertainer who was having a break. I had to take a photo of his bright costume and did this from a distance, just as the shutter clicked he had turned around and gave the most amazing smile. One of my very favourite street photos. Have a wonderful Sunday x

  19. Well this solves the mystery of a photo I have of my grandmother and grandfather, taken in 1939 on a street in Montreal. It is something of a candid shot, but there was no one in Montreal with them. They were there as my grandfather was heading for England to be part of a field hospital. It is the most contemporary photo that exists of the two of them together.

  20. Wonderful old photos, even if you don't know who the people are! I collect old photos - especially of weddings. Moments in time - now long forgotten. I always wonder how old photos end up orphaned at a flea market or antique shop, but I suppose they get passed down and family members don't know who they are, like these. It's interesting about the street photographers during the 30's and 40's. We used to have a fellow take aerial shots or our property and then come to the door to sell them to us. I love the statue and how fun to spend the day with your sweet family. Calgary is a beautiful city. I hope you get some answers to your questions. x Karen

  21. This is such an interesting post Pamela! Street photography must have been very popular in Western Canada because I have quite a few photos of our family members that were taken on the street. I believe the photographer would give a claim ticket to the people whose picture had been taken and then they would stop by the studio to pick up and pay for their photographs in a few days. You have inspired me to do a post using my old family photos. I don't know how long it will take me. I have to find something other than Picasa to use so it may take awhile. Hope you don't mind.


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