The passion for photography is nothing new. Having one's "likeness took" was popular from the inception of the art. It took an expert then, not a disposable camera as we often use now.
I have boxes of old pictures, tintypes, daguerreotypes, and paper prints, loose and in albums that Jos and I look through once in a while. They bring back beloved people and happy times for us.
Wedding pictures showed the bride standing demurely beside her selfconscious groom. A year or so later there would be their firstborn, dressed in flowing lace trimmed clothing. As the years passed, both Father and Mother were seated with their ever growing family standing around them.
In the summer photographers drove about the country with horse and wagon, stopping at farms and villages to make photographs. We have one like that made when Frank was almost two and Julia a babe in arms. We stood in front of the farmhouse, Jos on the (wooden) walk holding Frank's hand, Uncle Jos at the side with the team hitched and ready for work, Aunt Em stood on the porch and I on the steps, holding Baby Julia.
If you lived in a village you might take your child to the photographer's studio for a sitting. Backgrounds were often heavy drapes behind wicker chairs or outdoor scenes with a stuffed "sea gull" in the foreground or a pedestal to lean on. You could have the picture colored too, but it was little more than pinking cheeks and picking out the gold of rings, pins and watch chains.
You could have many copies made to distribute to doting relatives.
My grandpa wouldn't allow his picture to be taken for years. He claimed that "the Lord gave me one face and that's all He meant for me to have." Aunt Mary finally coaxed him to it, but he does look grim and forbidding. Grandpa was really a jolly man who enjoyed a joke and would chuckle way down deep inside with strange snortings and rumblings that were awe-inspiring to a small child.
Pictures used to be mounted on cardboard and propped on easels on the parlour table, piano or organ, and piled in baskets made for that purpose. Parlour walls were thickly hung with huge, massive frames of all sizes and shapes. As new pictures were added, the older ones were removed to the best bed chamber walls.
Albums were padded and plush covered or made of some hard material enameled with butterflies and flowers. The pages were thick with framed holes in which pictures were fitted. At the back of the album were several pages of smaller holes for tintypes.
Tintypes were very popular before paper pictures were perfected and for a while afterward too. Men in the Civil War armies sent tintypes home to show off their uniforms and glorious beards. Many a tintype of wife or mother was credited with saving a man's life by deflecting a minie ball.
There must be tons of pictures in attics all over the country. Grim, bearded men, prim, black clad women, and stiff, stareing children slowly giving way to more relaxed groups and laughing young people's parties when amateur photographers took over. They provide a review of the change in ideas, dress, and customs of our country through the years.