Wednesday Ephemera #7: Polaroid Snapshot (Year Unknown)

Above image: The morning light comes through the window and hits my desk, both shadowing and highlighting one of my favorite found photographs. The origin and date of photograph is unknown.

Hello my friends, welcome to the seventh installment of Wednesday Ephemera!

What is “Wednesday Ephemera” you ask? Well, it is a Show and Tell of sorts, a place where I share pieces from my collection of paper ephemera. Click here to read my extended introduction.

I wanted to share with you today a found photograph that I’ve had in my collection for some time. I have stacks and stacks of old photographs, and maybe one day I’ll get to sharing them all, but this one in particular pleases me.

Click on the photograph for a closer look.

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There isn’t much that I know about this photograph for certain. All I can tell you is the obvious: it measures 3 3/8″ wide by 4 3/8″ high, with a white border that measures 1/4″ around. By looking at the numbered markings on the back, I can say it was taken with a Polaroid land camera. The subject is a young male, a young female, and a small dog, and anything else would be speculation. I can’t say if these two are brother or sister, and if their dog is also a family member. I could guess that this photograph was taken in the early to mid 1960s, maybe in the late Fall, but it would be impossible for me to tell exactly where.

The sheer physicality of this photograph attracts me to it. The ancient piece of plastic tape that curls up from underneath it. The faint adhesive residue on the front that happens to frame the subjects. A piece of gold tinsel-like material that is attached to its top left border. The pink watermark that stains the center of the bottom border. Its rounded, worn edges; the glossy, protectant layer that peels up on all sides.

Then there’s the strange manner of the subjects pictured. The image has a stillness that should not be confused with tranquility. There is a slight sense of distrust in their collective gaze; a directness, an uncomfortable formality in their pose. Here lives an eerie coolness that is even extended towards their dog (a hand that corrects the natural slouch of his sit).

I realize this is all very subjective, but that still hasn’t stopped me from staring at this photograph and wondering. What I actually find amazing is how a photograph can show you some things, but essentially tell you absolutely nothing.

Well, that’s all I have for now. Until the next Wednesday Ephemera, be safe my friends.

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