The perfect family photo

I’m slowly starting to get together a little collection of old family photos, and can spend hours at a time just flipping through them. There’s one in particular that I keep getting drawn back to, and it never fails to make me smile.

Alexander Bannister Family at Osterley
Members of the Bannister family, c1923.

There’s just so much going on, and so much to love:

  • The crying, squirming baby.
  • The crying, squirming baby’s mother looking a bit frazzled.
  • The ‘missing’ heads of father and child.
  • The two women chatting and sharing a joke.
  • The people taking it very seriously – some more than others.

Today we have our digital ‘do-overs’; we click, we check, and we keep at it until the perfect shot is captured. But this one – from my great grandmother’s photo album – was (quite possibly) their ‘one chance’ for a group shot that day.

Sure, it didn’t go to plan, but it’s officially my new favourite.

I also can’t help but invent stories wonder about the follow-up after the photo was developed:

  • Ada (mum with crying baby) protesting that she wasn’t about to say ‘the F word’.
  • Errol (back right) lamenting his height, hoping that one day, somewhere, a photo of his head exists.
  • The photographer (unknown) is teased about his ‘skills’ at every family get-together thereafter…and made to sit at the kids’ table each Christmas.

They may well be other versions of the photo out there – where everyone’s included, smiling, and looking straight at the camera.

Perhaps this wasn’t their ‘one chance’…

…but I like to think that this version made it to the family album because my great grandmother loved it as much as I do.

The perfect family photo.

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