Exactly sixty years ago today my father took this photograph of my mother and me. I know this, because the print is inscribed on the back in my mother's handwriting
12 days old"
- I was born on the 14th, today is the 26th.
My brother Jon sent me the print a day before my birthday this month; he had rescued it from one of our sister's periodic spring-cleans. It's on semi-matte paper; image size exactly 8x6 inches / 20.3x15.2 cm though with a small rebate on the longer side. The original wasn't printed quite squarely on the paper; I have no way of knowing what camera it was taken on. I remember him using only 5"x4" Speed Graphics before taking delivery of a Rolleiflex in about 1960, though during WW2 I think he toted a Contax amongst other cameras; I am aware that several other sizes of Speed Graphic existed. My mother sometimes mentioned a Palmos, which I remember only vaguely.
In all likelihood the film was Ilford HP3.
It looks like a rushed effort: dad probably returned from a job with a dark slide only half used and got mum to hold the baby so that he could use the other half and reload with fresh film for his next assignment, then producing a quick print in a spare moment for the scrap-book that never got made. The sepia in the original is the effect of the years, not of extra toning.
I have no memory of the house - it was somewhere in Southampton - but the chairs and cupboard seem familiar. I can not help noticing his collection of fishing rods and his favourite Hardy reels in the background, while salmon flies hang from the pictures on the wall. A small piece of family history that lay forgotten until a fortnight ago.
I simply scanned the print (V2), straightened it in software and set about removing the accumulated scratches and dustmarks electronically. Perhaps I may claim one small record, though: I expect this is the first time a photograph has appeared in ephotozine sixty years to the day after it was taken!