Black & White negatives from the 1930s

Whilst I was sorting through a box of vintage cameras a couple of days ago, I came upon a collection of black & white negatives which I’d bought many months ago, which were taken by various amateur snapshot photographers in the 1930s.

I’d forgotten I’d bought these photos, but looking at them as best I could in their negative format, there seemed to be some well defined images, so I thought I’d have an evening scanning some of them to see what sort of pictures were available.

When I had scanned the black & white negatives and could see the images in their correct, positive format, a few things struck me about the photos.

The first thing was how many of the photos are snapshots of girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands and children. I know that is a common subject today as well, but if you could scroll through the photos on most people’s phones there would be large numbers of photos which weren’t of the photographer’s family and friends.

I suspect that’s because film was costly, especially with the processing costs, and this encouraged people to concentrate on the important things in their lives rather than just photographing everything.

The other thing which immediately made an impact was how many of the photos were taken in portrait orientation.

This is possibly because of the camera used – I don’t know which type of camera obviously, but the negatives were all something like 2 1/4 inch by 5 inches, which probably indicates a folding camera. Possibly the natural way to hold the type of camera the photographer had is in portrait format, but some of the pictures would have been far better if taken in landscape. The image of the man playing tennis for example has a lot of foreground grass but we don’t see the other player.

The other thing which I noticed quite quickly as I looked through the pictures was the number of blurry photos, poorly exposed photos and franky badly composed pictures with heads cut off and people so far in the distance that you couldn’t make out their features! I didn’t include those in this post, but it was quite a percentage – I guess that is not so prevalent today because to the automatic modes most cameras have.

The Black & White Negatives from the 1930s

So the pictures are shown below – have a look and if you have any comments please let me know in the form below.

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A software developer by profession, I've always been interested in photography and vintage photography in particular. This site is one of several I run which is dedicated to film, photography and photo equipment.

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