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Amusing family portraits from the 1980s
08.06.2018
08:58 am
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Family life can be either good or bad and is usually a mixture of both, but all family portraits are terrible. The disparate elements involved in taking a family portrait (posture, fashion, lighting, mood, the talent of the photographer) conspire to make the subjects seem suspect, awkward, and only related by great misfortune or a surprising similarity of attire.

Portrait photography itself is weird, only actors and models (with the aid of Photoshop) look good in such pictures. They are playing a part, which is why they look so convincing, so cool, so utterly natural. The rest of us usually never know what we should be expressing or what character to be or what the hell we are doing. This confusion is often apparent in our family portraits.

But that’s the way it goes. We all tend to look awkward in photos because the camera is an unnatural intrusion which demands we perform. On the plus side, the family portrait can be a delightful momento of a happy shared experience, no matter how awkward or silly we look. Which brings us to these little beauties, strangely awkward and amusing yet utterly normal portraits of families posing for the camera.
 
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More awkward family snaps, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.06.2018
08:58 am
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Polaroids from ‘Return of the Jedi’

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Harrison Ford wanted his character, Han Solo, to die in Return of the Jedi. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan agreed. Kasdan thought Solo’s death would freak out the audience and make ‘em appreciate no one was safe. George Lucas nixed the idea. Lucas wanted Return of the Jedi to deliver a huge payload from merchandising and as Ford later explained, “George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”

Merchandising was certainly one influence in making of Return of the Jedi. Stars Wars merchandise had given Lucas a “Golden Ticket” and he was determined to use it to get everything he wanted. Lucas had ambitions to use this money to fund his dream of an independent studio, Skywalker Ranch. It’s long been discussed by fans as to just how much Lucas changed things to help him achieve his ambitions. Keeping Solo alive was one. Changing the Ewoks from butt-ugly lizards to cutesy teddy bears was another. As were the multiple feel-good endings—something probably inspired by the double-ending of Oscar-winner Chariots of Fire. At one point in its development, Return of the Jedi closed on Luke Skywalker wandering off into the sunset like a war-weary samurai. In another, he turned to the Dark Side after the death of his father Darth Vader. These were a bit too downbeat for Lucas who wanted to make a “kid’s film.”

Aside from the merchandising and “Nub Yub,” Lucas had some far-out suggestions for the film’s director. He originally wanted Steven Spielberg, which is understandable, but then he offered the film to David Lynch and then David Cronenberg which would have been pretty awesome if one or the other had signed-up. They both turned the offer down. It was eventually given to BBC TV director Richard Marquand to helm, as Lucas wanted a safe pair of hands as he thought movie-making really happened in the cutting-room. It’s also been long rumored Marquand didn’t direct all of the film as he had a difficult relationship with the cast.

Return of the Jedi merchandise made Lucas gazillions. It may not be the best of the first three Star Wars movies made but it is a damned sight better than some of those that were made afterward.

As any fule no, during a movie’s production, make-up and wardrobe take Polaroids of cast members in their different costumes and slap to ensure continuity. Here’s a little collection of continuity Polaroids featuring Luke, Hans, Princess Leia, and co.
 
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More on-set Polaroids, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.02.2018
09:08 am
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Hip to be Square: A look at young men’s fashions from the 1960s
01.10.2018
11:23 am
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Most young men in the sixties didn’t look like Charlie Manson in beads and a kaftan. Most wore button-down shirts, drainpipes, and sported short hair. Despite all those documentaries television likes to feed us (e.g. The Sixties), not everyone was at Woodstock. Not everyone was out of their tits on LSD. Not everyone looked like an unwashed extra from The Walking Dead. Most people looked normal. Lived average lives. Wore everyday clothes. It might be nice for the TV execs and the film studios and those with something to sell to make us all think kids in the sixties were far-out freaks who lived off a diet of mind-blowing drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll—certainly a few did and many of them were wannabe or fully-fledged rock stars—but most were like the young men in these photographs—straight, average, happy, and quite dull. Just like the rest of us.

I look at these pictures and see most of my wardrobe—the narrow lapels, the straight-leg pants, the white tees, and the plaid shirts. Denim and cheesecloth ain’t something for me. Indeed, most of these outfits wouldn’t look out of place today, though I’m fairly sure future generations will look back at this decade and believe all young men had man-buns, waxed their beards into novel designs, wore tartan waistcoats with striped shirts and polka-dot bow ties and were master artisans who knitted their own yoghurt.
 
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More real-life fashions from the swinging sixties, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.10.2018
11:23 am
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A Room of Their Own: Teenage bedrooms from the 1980s
12.29.2017
08:59 am
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When you share a bedroom with a sibling you’re not too bothered about privacy, well, that is until you start growing hair down there or get tired of their taste in music/jokes/conversation or maybe just their lack of personal hygiene.

I shared a bedroom with my brother until I was in my teens when our parents moved up a rung to a quiet leafy terrace by the edge of a river. We then got rooms of our own. He was older so had first dibs and unselfishly picked the larger of the two. I got the six by ten study-cum-nursery-cum-guest room which still had some of its old yellow wallpaper of puppy dogs and cats and orange-winged butterflies.

Like every other brat, I soon covered the walls with posters and photographs and newspaper clippings—just like the kinda stuff youngsters keep on their smartphones today. I was under the mistaken belief I was expressing some unacknowledged aspect of my personality rather than just giving free advertising to rich people who didn’t really need it.

Yes, I was young and I was foolish (and probably far too serious for my own good) but I had a space to call my own. Just like these young boys and girls from the 1980s, who’ve got their rooms and their posters and growing sense of who they’re maybe going to be.
 
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More teens in their rooms, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.29.2017
08:59 am
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Head Shots: Surreal collages by John Stezaker
12.21.2017
10:01 am
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Today, we’re going to make a collage like those made by John Stezaker. Now, for this you’ll need some glue, a craft knife—I like using a Stanley blade—and some white card. You’ll also need a stack of eight by ten black and white glamor photographs. Some old glamor photographs will do nicely.

John Stezaker is an artist. He makes collages using publicity photographs of movie stars and entertainers from the 1940s and 1950s.

Now you might also like to use some colorized postcards of distant exotic lands from around six or seven decades ago to add a bit of commentary to the original image.

Some are well-known stars, some less so. Stezaker dissects these photographs and places them together, sometimes overlapping, on to card or paper, to create, what he describes as “new beings.”

Once you’ve selected the photographs you want to work with—I usually select two—decide how exactly you would like to mix together. I usually lay mine side-by-side before making any decision about where to cut them.

Stezaker tends to work at night during “explosions of activity.” The next morning, he might dismantle the image and start again. This is all part of the creative process.

When you’ve decided how you’re going to place your two images together, use your craft knife to cut across the photos, like this, I use a ruler to keep the line smooth. You could, I suppose, use a guillotine. Now, do the same with the second picture then place the two together.

Stezaker’s collages are hybrid gender-bending portraits of sliced and spliced men and women. Sometimes their faces are lost in dreamy scenic beauty or are figures isolated by landscape. His collages are recognizable but oddly disconcerting. It is difficult to identify the separate parts without being overpowered by the whole. He is questioning our relationship to the past and ideas about memory and how we view the world and the people in it.

Occasionally he will add in a postcard to cover a headshot to suggest an inner reality or an emotional distance between people.

Once you have the two opposite halves of your new face ready, glue them down on to the card and you’ll have a new image.

Stezaker describes his collaged heads as “more like people than the original bland glamour shots of the 40s and 50s.”

Let the glue dry, I usually leave mine overnight, and then you’ll finish up with a picture that looks like one of Stezaker’s, except it’s not.

His collage work seems “deceptively simple” but Stezaker spends considerable time sourcing and choosing his imagery before creating a picture. He takes his inspiration from the Surrealists and Marcel Duchamp. The titles of his work are functional. For example, Masks where scenic postcards disguise faces. Marriages and Betrayals, were the glamor portraits of a men and a women are spliced together to create a new identity.

It seems kinda apt that Stezaker looks a cross between two other people—a bit of Kurt Vonnegut and some W. G. Sebald. He was born in 1949 and attended the Slade School of Art graduating with a Fine Art Diploma in 1973. Since then, he has exhibited his work on-and0ff, but since the turn of the century has had a revitalized interest in his collage work, which led to Stezaker being hailed as “a major influence on the Young British Art movement.” Most recently he has exhibited in the USA and Australia. See more of his work here.
 
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More faces from the past reimagined for the present, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.21.2017
10:01 am
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Vintage photographs of festive frolics and other strange yuletide rituals
12.19.2017
10:02 am
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‘Is that a balloon in your hand or, are you just pleased to see me?’
 
Last Christmas, I gave you a selection of women posing by their seasonal fertility symbols. This year, I thought it’d be fun while we write our cards and drink eggnog to have a look at the festive shenanigans that go on all around the Christmas tree—from the mind-numbing boredom of the office party to the utter futility of opening up presents on Christmas morn.

Now, you may say, “Who gives a fuck about Christmas?” And I’d have to say right back at you fella, “Well, that’s not the right kind of attitude to have if you really want to be on Mr. Claus’s nice list. Talking like that is only going to get you a big lump of coal in your stocking.”

It’s quite easy to be cynical about the Holidays, but I have to be honest, I really like this time of year because I always get lots of free stuff. So, whatever you’re doing this holiday season, make sure you get free stuff too. And remember if you don’t like what you get, you can always sell it on eBay.

And now, here are the vintage photographs of people doing stuff at Christmas.
 
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Bad Santa.
 
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‘I keep getting this feeling somebody’s watching us…’
 
More festive fun, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.19.2017
10:02 am
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‘All I See Are Monsters’: Amusing Polaroids of imaginary creatures in everyday surroundings
10.10.2017
09:14 am
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‘Can we eat it?’
 
We all know monsters are everywhere, don’t we? It’s not just at Halloween that monsters like to creep out from under the bed, or crawl up from the depths of that dark, dank cellar, to scare the bejesus out of people. Monsters are everywhere—but we just have to know where to look.

Artist, illustrator, and purveyor of fine goods, Martin Grubb likes to imagine monsters are all around us too. So much so, it inspired Mr. Grubb to create All I See Are Monsters, a series of fabulous Polaroid photographs of just what some of these imaginary beasts might just look like and what they might be up to.

Grubb creates his pictures at his home in Glasgow. He starts off by photographing himself with whatever props he has to hand. “I then use Photoshop,” Grubb tells Dangerous Minds, “to add monsters with the idea that monsters are all around us but go mostly unseen.”

Some of these creatures are far closer than we may like to think.

“Some people have monsters inside,” says Grubb, “these monsters can be destructive or a hindrance but maybe some can be of comfort.”

Apart from creating works of monstrous beauty, Grubb also runs an independent art boutique and gallery supporting local and worldwide artists, illustrators, and jewelry-makers called The Shop of Interest. If this tickles your fancy (and why wouldn’t it?), then you can see more of the talented Mr. Grubb’s work at Grubby Arts or visit his boutique gallery here.
 
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‘Bandmates.’
 
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‘Why can’t I be Batman?’
 
More Grubby monsters, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.10.2017
09:14 am
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Amusing vintage photos of people posing with their TV sets
07.24.2017
08:55 am
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Evolution: Fire, fireplace, radio, television, computer, smartphone.

Once upon a time, families gathered in front of the fireplace to have their photographs taken. The flickering flames, the giver of warmth, the focus of a family at rest was quickly and dramatically usurped by technology—first the wireless then television from the 1950s onward. Now kith and kin gathered together to pose in front of the flickering cathode ray. Next time some know-it-all from the last century tut-tuts your obsessive use of a smartphone or numerous hours spent clicking “like” on Facebook, just remind them that once upon a time they too did the very same when they sat and supped from the glass teat of television.

Though television has been around in one form or another since the 1920s, it wasn’t until the fifties that TV became the first choice for family entertainment. America pioneered the way, producing a golden age of dramas and serials and films. For most people, TV sets were expensive, very expensive. They were considered valuable assets, signifiers of a family’s wealth and status. To own a color TV in the 1950s was to be part of a much-hyped affluent jet set (and presumably a big Perry Como fan as his show was just about the one thing to watch in color during that decade). Up until the late 1960s color TV sets were still pretty much a rarity.

I was a wireless kid. My parents first rented a TV sometime in the late sixties-early seventies. Even then, a new TV was way too expensive for many British families to buy outright, so most people rented their TV sets from companies like Granada or Radio Rentals. “Great service you get/Renting your color set/From Granada” went one of the cheesy ads for TV rentals in 1977. TV sets came in ornate boxes sometimes with doors on the front to disguise the set as some kind of tasteful item of furniture—a drinks cabinet maybe or a redwood sideboard credenza. And don’t be fooled, most TV pictures were pitiful when compared to today’s 4K sets as TV signals were atrocious. The public spent most evenings fiddling about the TV aerial trying to find a better picture. Applying a ball of tinfoil was the sole option to improve the signal, decidedly low tech “hack” that was a common enough sight.

Yet, TV was everything. And that’s why people posed for photographs in front of their expensive, valuable, and trusted friend the electronic eye.

For the past decade or so, artist Oliver Wasow has been collecting found images on the Internet and organizing them into some kind of order. Pictures of families celebrating birthdays, or blurred images, or teen titans working out, or people holding cameras, or children holding guns, or just couples arm-in-arm or dressed for a night out. One set that particularly attracted my attention consisted of people standing beside TV sets looking proud and happy as if introducing a new family member to the camera: “Here’s our new grandchild,” or “Here’s my new husband.” These images brought back memories of how TV sets were once such very potent symbols of status. And how people once considered the TV set as being a part of the family—a companion—strange though that may seem today. Just look at the joy some of the following people show on their faces while in proximity to their little box of delights.
 
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More found photos of people posing with their TV sets, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.24.2017
08:55 am
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Vintage photographs of women posing with their pagan fertility symbols
12.23.2016
08:13 am
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Every Fall I keep my eyes peeled for the appearance of the first Christmas tree. They seem to come earlier every year. The earliest I’ve ever seen one was at the end of September last year when a bright glittering aluminum tree appeared high in a tenement window in the north of the city.

By December windows all across town are glowing bright with colored lights like so many opened windows on an Advent calendar. The earlier the tree, the more likely it is to be aluminum—or “artificial” as we call it in the UK—for obvious reasons.

My parents always had a fake tree, which was taken down from the attic during the second week of December then covered with baubles, tinsel, candy canes and lights. The usual kinda stuff. There was always a great pleasure taken in decorating the tree—a childish excitement at the fast approaching holidays.

Which brings me to these fine vintage photographs from the 1950s and 1960s of women proudly sitting or standing beside their Christmas trees—looking all happy and proud. Though these are quite wonderfully festive pictures they kinda overlook the original history of such seasonal trees as giant phallic symbols that have a pagan history going way back to ancient times.

Depending on who you read the Christmas tree became fashionable with northern Europeans around the mid-fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Estonia and Latvia still bicker over who put up the first Christmas tree—the Estonian’s claim they did in 1441—while the Latvians point out they have documentary evidence to the first decorated Christmas tree displayed in Riga in 1510.

Thereafter, the use of trees to celebrate Christmas spreads to northern Germany where the first printed reference of such festive firs appears in 1531. These trees were later decorated with cake, candles and even glass baubles.

This tradition spread to England where in 1800 Queen Charlotte the German wife of George III, “set up the first known English tree at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, in December, 1800.” It would take until during the 1840s when—after their promotion by Prince Albert (the German husband of Queen Victoria) and through Charles Dickens’s popular festive tales—decorated Christmas trees became a seasonal “thing” in people’s houses, rather than town squares or churches. The Christmas tree was seen as a symbol of renewal and hope—which kinda takes it back to its pagan history.

Long, long before Victorians popularized the Xmas tree—the ancient Greeks considered pine trees as sacred to Attis the god of flora and Cybele the Earth goddess. The Greeks were said to decorate their trees with small silver trinkets as a symbol of rebirth and renewal—which was similar to how the ancient Egyptians viewed their palm trees, using palm leaves to decorate their homes as as “sign of resurrection.”

Then there were the Romans who associated evergreens with the return of the sun during their festivities for Saturnalia during December—a period of gift giving, feasting and human sacrifice. The Romans decorated their “trees with bits of metal and replicas of their god, Bacchus [a fertility god]. They also placed 12 candles on the tree in honor of their sun god.”

The evergreen fir tree was seen as a highly potent phallic symbol for continuing fertility during the winter solstice—symbolizing the soon approaching Spring and the birth of new life.
 
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Just waitin’ for Santa.
 
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Santa knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.
 
More festive women and their Xmas trees, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.23.2016
08:13 am
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Growing Up Rotten: Pictures of a young John Lydon

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Photographs of John Lydon from cute, tartan-clad child, via brainy school portrait, to long-haired, teenaged hippie, who was going to Hawkwind concerts and allegedly selling LSD.
 
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Via The Times, Stereogum, Fodderstompf, and Fark
 
More of young Master Lydon, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.30.2013
11:16 am
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Victorian photo booth
07.08.2011
02:09 pm
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I love these two. It’s such a sweet treat to see a Victorian era photograph with smiles and giggles like this.

(via reddit)

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.08.2011
02:09 pm
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