A Stranger’s Childhood in Pictures

About 18 months ago, mooching round a charity shop in Crystal Palace I came across a box of 35mm colour slides. They seemed to depict roughly a year or two in someone’s life. There were summer holidays, Bank holidays, donkey rides, church services, day trips to a zoo and an ornamental garden, family gatherings and finally Christmas dinner. The woman in the shop didn’t know where they’d come from, ‘perhaps a house clearance’ she said.

They’re amazing. This is what photography used to be like for most people. You took the camera out when there was an ‘occasion’ as getting film processed was a bit of a luxury. It’s the sort of photography I grew up with, what is jokingly referred to as ‘Christmas on each end of the film, summer holiday in the middle’. If you grew up in the late 60s/early 70s, you’re childhood probably looked like this too. When you like at images like these, you can squint and almost imagine your family members in the picture.

As this statistic from the National Media Museum says.

‘In 1979 amateurs took an estimated 750 million photographs. By then there were 10 million snap shooters …. Most used between one and three rolls of film a year’

Last November the number of uploaded Flickr images passed the 2 billion mark (in just four years). That’s progress after all, to quote Mat Locke talking about his own kids’ use of technology: ‘What we carved out of rock they take as landscape

We photograph everything these days; we’ve made our whole lives one long ‘occasion’. But when you look at these found images, you see not only the rapid change in how we used photography, but how rapidly we’ve changed as a society and as a Nation too.

Anyway, I was planning to do something clever and creative with them, but I (well actually Lee!) never got round to it. So instead, here they are, released under CC (Attribution-NonCommercial) for what ever you’d like to do with them.

Below are some of my favourites. (Full set here) If you recognise a place (or a face!) in any of them, please at a note/geo-tag in Flickr.

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 130People made their own music

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 125Spain had just become affordable as a holiday destination

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 114

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 112People still went to Church

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 105Christmas Dinner was still a free for all.

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 058 Most people holidayed in the UK

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 096HMS Victory ( I think)

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 083 Twister was the new crazed

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 061The Bugle in Hamble (Still there) and super weirdly I went there the week before I bought these slides.

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 138The average family gathering, with tea

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 034Anyone recognise the make of car?

A Stranger's Childhood in Picture - 011Look at the dresses, the decor, the hair!

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7 Responses to “A Stranger’s Childhood in Pictures”


  1. 1 holmes January 21, 2008 at 1:39 am

    the car is a Renault 10 – I had one once a very long time ago.

  2. 2 Nina January 22, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    I’m a bit surprised that you are attaching a Creative Commons licence to these pictures – presumably that can only be granted by the copyright holder, and under UK law the copyright belongs to the person who took the pictures, not to the person who happens to own the slides.

  3. 3 eyedropper January 22, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Yes that’s true. But what would you do Nina as I’m unable to trace the copyright holder, or they could be dead, or as is more than likey, no one will care.

    I actually sort legal advice while at the BBC about this matter, the result was a non-plussed ‘do it and see’.

    If the copyright holder comes forward and can prove 100% they took the photos, then I’ll take them down.

    But until then they’re just old slides found in a charity shop, Besides, at least this way they’re giving joy and enjoyment to new people rather than in the bin – and it’s not like I’m making any profit from them either.

  4. 4 Chris January 23, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    I’ve been to the Bugle not so long ago as well – small world. It was a baking hot day a couple of years ago.

  5. 5 Nina January 23, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    @ eyedropper,

    I guess these are typical examples of so-called orphan works (the stuff of picture agencies’ nightmares), and I take your point that at least this way you are giving them a new kind of home. My quibble was more with the implicit presumption in the way you formulated a CC-licence for others to ‘do what you like to them’. Now that you have clarified it (and cited the legal advice, which I thought was refreshingly nonchalant)I realise that in the circumstances it is a good idea to encourage attribution to you/your site in further usage, as that way more info can be gathered about the pictures and their provenance, whilst keeping track of where and by whom they were last discovered, which may be a crucial link in the chain of potential identification.

  6. 6 Lee February 17, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    What can I say, er, umm, an eagle stole my code, swooped down, plucked it from my grasp, probably making a nest with it as we speak… and my great aunt died oh and the neighbour had smallpox, so my whole road had to be razed to the ground by UN soliders… etc.

    🙂

  7. 7 ali November 18, 2008 at 10:03 am

    love the girls out in their dresses – but look at all those cigs!!


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