I’ve made a great discovery. A site called Square America that is “a gallery of vintage snapshots and vernacular photography.” Photos from the early 20th century up through the 1970s or so. I keep going back to the site to browse through it. Some of the images are breathtaking. Some of them are funny. All of them are fragile and bittersweet.
The pictures are beautiful without meaning to be. It’s heartbreaking the way we try to capture moments and hold on–to people, to youth, to life–knowing all the while that we can’t. It’s mesmerizing to see these flashes of other times, other places, and other people gone by.
The fact that these snapshots were taken by amateur photographers–friends, husbands, parents–makes them feel so intimate. You can wonder at who these people were, where they were going, whatever became of them. You are seeing a real moment that’s lost in every other way to time. You are peeking into a life you could never actually find.
Or, at the same time, these could be your relatives, your childhood, your family album. How is it possible that strangers’ lives can feel so much like your own?
Square America has just put out a book, and I ordered it as soon as I found out about it. Now I am watching the mail.