Family Resemblance in Vintage Photo

Recently, my father asked me to archive a bit of family history. He presented me with a large 16×20 image of my great-great grandfather, Sylvester. He’s had this picture hanging on his wall for years. It’s close to 100 years old and is showing signs of aging. There are watermarks on the image and a large crack that runs completely across the picture. I decided this was a great project to practice my digital retouching skills. Preserving a bit of family history before it was lost forever.

The first surprise came when I actually took the image out of the handmade wooden frame. We’ve always assumed it was a photograph, but upon closer inspection, discovered it’s actually a photograph with the features outlined in charcoal! This picture is quite large, at least 16×20, which is very unusual given the timeframe it was made. No one knows the story of this picture, when it was made, who commissioned the photograph…all we know is that it’s approximately 100 years old.

My aunt and others in my family swear that I’m the “spitting image” of my great-great grandfather. Uncanny is the word you will often hear them use. By the way, where did the phrase “spitting image” come from? I decided to set up a small studio in my living room over the weekend to take some family portraits for our annual Christmas card. Yes, I had to sit and endure a photo session at the hands of my wife. Trust me, I have a new found empathy for my clients. This was an outtake that I thought I’d share to show the resemblance.

Sylvester and Randy

I’m not sure how 3 generations has changed the resemblance. I think people notice a similarity in our hairline, and the salt and pepper gray in our hair. It’s strange to me that there are no pictures of his wife or children. There is a story here and it will always be a mystery. I like to imagine that I’m a lot like him. He looks strong and proud. A man of reputation. I’d like to think that somewhere, either in appearance or personality traits, there is a family resemblance.

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  1. Erio

    You should grow a big hairy mustache dood!