vintage photographs

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Okay so here’s the lowdown. I found 4 sets of medium format negatives while I was thrift shop hunting a few weeks ago. They were sitting in a box of old vintage photographs in these plastic sleeves, and from what I could tell, they had been taken sometime in the 50’s. So obviously I brought them home, and today finally had them scanned in, and holy wow they are beautiful!!

NOW this is where I need the Internet’s help. I would absolutely love to find the women in these photographs/the photographer who took them. The only info I have is that the negatives were found in a thrift store on Hull St in Richmond, VA. They are medium format, and judging by the style of dress, made in 1940-1950. The owner of the thrift store had no idea where they came from. I’m posting the best/clearest scans of the images, so if y'all could reblog the shit out of this, I’m hoping we can find the owners of these amazing images.

Male affection in vintage photos.

By Gwen Sharp, PhD

Today in the U.S., one of the major rules of masculinity is that men must avoid physical intimacy with each other unless they want to have their sexuality called into question. The guy horrified by the potential implications of a casual physical touch is a common trope in our pop culture.

But this wasn’t always the case. For physical closeness and even casual expressions of intimacy to become threats to masculinity, homosexuality had to enter the public consciousness as a stigmatized identity. That is, a man being gay had to be a possibility in observers’ minds when interpreting their behavior, and men had to be eager to avoid any such assumptions.

Over at the Art of Manliness, Brett and Kate McKay have posted a fantastic collection of old photos showing men posing in ways that show a high level of comfort with physical contact between men. Many of them show men posed in ways that would be unacceptable among straight men today. Here are just a few; I highly recommend looking at their entire post:

The McKays point out that sitting for a portrait required men to go to public businesses and openly pose for a photographer. These poses were quite common for men at the time and wouldn’t have been read through the lens of potential gayness that viewers today would likely apply.

Once personal cameras became popular, formal studio photos waned, but early snapshots showed similar poses:

Though snapshots eliminated the need to go to a public place of business and pose, film still had to be developed by a professional, who would look at each image (and, even when I was a kid, developers would occasionally refuse to develop photos due to content, and occasionally you heard of a developer calling the police about photos they believed revealed illegal activities). The fact that physical touching is so common among men in early snapshots indicates that there was nothing scandalous or threatening bout such poses. Only as the performance of masculinity became increasingly focused on an obsessive avoidance of any perception of gayness or femininity did such touching become taboo.

Seriously, though — -check out their entire post. It’s awesome!

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