"Things You Wouldn't Know If We Didn't Blog Intermittently."
I love old cabinet cards ~ fun to alter!! Who did they think they were fooling?!?!
Couldn't they just mask mom out when making the print?
This technique is still used today. When my son was born we needed to get him a passport so that he could travel along with either mom or dad. The photographer had a special boot for newborns with was essentially a white cloth with some holes in it. The parent puts on the cloth and then picks up the little one to support him (the head mainly) and keep close to him for comfort (crying is not allowed on passport pics). then the cloth is kept tight with some ropes. After a few tries we managed to get a qualified pic where I was holding up his head, he had his eyes open, wasn't crying and I was invisible.sidenote: We went through all the trouble to be able to travel around with him because we were living abroad. The nonsensical part is that a passport (valid for 5 years) with a picture of a 3 week old newborn in it...could be anybodies child after 3 months.
Very interesting, Heumpje. That's the first time I've heard of the techniquer used in modern times.I agree with your comment in the sidenote. It would seem to me that the most logical photo to go on a infant's passport would be one of him or her being held by the two parents.
YEs, I was just going to post that this is still used for infant passports. The passport was good for 3 years, but yes, for identification it is pretty useless unless the child has distinct features.
I still laugh every time I look at my daughter's first passport photo. She was about 1 year old and looks just about as startled and puzzled as you might expect. We called her "Baby Mugshot" when the pic showed up in her passport!
A friend of mine made what I think might be a decent observation about the root of these photos, that goes back to before photography existed. I think most of your readers will recall that sitting for a portrait for an early photographer was a long, slow, boring process, waiting for the film to expose while having to hold completely still for minutes at a time. But imagine the process before photography. Having your portrait painted would have been even worse. And, how easy would it have been to just paint out the mother/cloak with a hand painted portrait, once the baby's face is done? He suggested that the hidden mother idea i a holdover from that time, when sitting for a portrait precluded the mom under a cloak, and it didn't occur to anyone to do it differently for a while for photographic portraits.
When we studied these in the history of photography course I took in college, we were told that the hidden mother (or other caregiver) was there to comfort an otherwise frightened child. I wonder, however, if they weren't also there to put the fear of God into a fidgety child: "Hold still or else!".
I wonder if there was a perceived need for individual photos of children. A connection to mourning photos, perhaps? While I've seen examples with multiple children, most of these seem to feature only a single child of a fairly young age.