Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Victorian & Edwardian Cat Photography


One of my favorite things to collect are Victorian & Edwardian photographs of people with their cats. I especially enjoy looking at these people from over 100 years ago and wondering if they loved their cats as much as I love mine!

I have a few daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes, but mostly gelatin and albumen prints in the form of cabinet cards and cartes-de-visite. I love the lighting and detail of these old photographs. And as a photography buff, I appreciate what goes into a beautiful composition.

When photography was in its infancy from the 1830's up through the Civil War years, it was practiced by professionals in private studios in large cities, or by traveling photographers who took their gear on the road to small towns all over the United States. At first, exposure times were long. Subjects had to sit or stand very still for minutes at a time, often with the help of hidden neck supports. Children or babies were held to keep them as still as possible. The stiff looks, no smiles and glazed over eyes (from inevitable blinking) are typical of early photos.

The family pet rarely got the chance to be in the picture in the early days. To find a sharp image of a cat is rare! In later years, the use of flash and faster exposure times meant clearer, more animated poses... and more sharp pets.

Here is my list of recommended sites and books about early photography:

7 comments:

The Victorian Parlor said...

I love antique photographs! I collect daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and antique albums. Hubby and I had our pictures done a few years ago at a reenactment. The photos were tin types and the photographer used an antique camera and the same methods for developing as they did in the 19th century. After that experience we understood why so many CDV's showed grumpy looking people-it's hard to sit completely still without moving for such a long period of time!

Blessings,

Kim

Eastlake Victorian said...

Kim, that's so cool that you were able to have an actual tintype made! I love the old methods of photography. They're so beautiful. Thanks for all your nice comments!

Pam

BumbleVee said...

the one with the three guys sitting there looking at the cat made me laugh.... makes you wonder what was going on.... lol....I wonder if the cat belonged to the photographer..... I wanna know the story ! ha....

SimpleSue said...

Thanks for sharing your fabulous photos of victorian cats!

Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Sue-

Welcome to my blog! I'm glad you stopped by and became a follower! I love these old photos of cats and their owners. They really make me smile!

-Pam

simplesue said...

Oh!!!It took me a lot of searching but it must be these Victorian cat photos that I did not credit your blog for! I'm going to go do that now! Thanks for sharing and I do apologize for somehow neglecting to give your blog credit for these very cool old photos!

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Sue-

Thank you! I know it's not always easy, especially on Tumblr, to get the pictures linked back to their sources, but thank you so much for doing so! We seem to have similar taste in images, and I'm glad to have found you! :-)

-Pam

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