Portraits

Portraits "The Art of Identifying Instant Ancestors"

Portraits are the most common subject matter we encounter as collectors. Most can only be appreciated by our family, and then sparingly. Thus most portraits have little value. However, there are always exceptions:

Many people collect specific things about portraits:

People of color or ethnic groups

Buildings & specific places

Beards/hats/dresses/jewelry

Occupational

China..the country

I also like portraits of people that help to learn history or see things in a different light; things that help tell a story or create a million questions. This photo, a Native American female elder, is a favorite of mine. It meets my ethnic group criteria AND creates more questions than answers such as, what is the key for on her belt used for?

Historical persons are always of interest. I use Blippar as a visual image recognition tool and have the applet on my phone for facial recognition. A fantastic free tool. While images of famous persons were often syndicated they were also pirated. Thus, who printed the photo is often an important detail.

Be sure to look on the back of cabinet photos and CDV's to see who they are by. This information is important to value the item as well as a clue to identifying who is in the photograph or where it was taken. We feature several important photographers on HIP including Martha Harvey Hale, Alice Curtis, and George Sakata of the 422nd RCB 100th Nisei Batallion. Here is one of my favorite sites for identifying photographer studios! http://www.langdonroad.com/