Nova Scotia Faces (2007 Intro)

19 Dec 2007
Here's the presentation I worked out in early 2006 for Nova Scotia Faces, which was originally mounted in a wiki environment at, but when schtuff was acquired by PBWiki the translation into their format didn't go smoothly. It's time to consider the next evolution of presentation, and in order to do so I'm moving the project to and improving the linkage to Flickr. It'll take a while to move into a new presentation form, and this does have some charm.

I keep the snapshots not for what they show but for what is hidden in them.
Margaret Laurence, The Diviners, 14
I'm experimenting with wikification of my Nova Scotia Faces project, with the object of soliciting help from vernacular photography enthusiasts. This may turn out to be a mistake, but we won't know until we try, right?

I started putting items into Flickr in November 2005, one or two a day (see the set here, and for a really good time, try viewing as a slideshow), but that was simply too slow, or anyway that's what Gardner said. And it's all very well for me to give my readings of these gems, but it would be at least as interesting to hear what others have to say. Some people have added comments to the (more detailed, larger) Flickr versions of the images.

Bottom line: if you'd like to play in this territory, email me ( and I'll get Schtuff to issue you an Invitation to be a Participant/Collaborator, with powers to edit and so on. [In fact nobody ever did... and in retrospect that's not surprising]

To give you a jumping-off place, consider the possible tags and captions for this one...

These images are vernacular in the sense that they were primarily of interest to small numbers of people --immediate family and friends. Many were taken by professional photographers (and most are, in fact, meant to be portraits), though some of the most fascinating are 'snapshots', amateur productions which achieve a sort of eloquence via naive framing and selection of subject matter. Each is a bundle of details that might be decoded and turned into a story. Each is an undefended glimpse into the life of a real person or group of people. I poke fun at a lot of the subjects, but deep down I realize that I love them, and that, after 25+ years of looking at them, my own life is entangled with theirs, though our temporal existences mostly don't overlap. I rescued them from junk-store oblivion, and putting them up here breathes new life into their mostly-anonymous selves.

The categories below have gradually emerged as I made subsets of the photographs. Within any category, the order of presentation is tentative and provisional, and in a few cases I've included an image under more than one heading. I've found it VERY interesting to look through the corpus defined by these sets, and I continue to tinker with commentary and sequence.

Poor Alice G.





the little stranger

baby pictures and another presentation

horrid children


rites of passage


sibling sets


hair genes

beards and moustaches


posing for a photograph

the new car

the art of layout

Miss E. Woodward's album

what Naum knew: the Young album

Lizzie Ritchie's album

another Ritchie album

the Risser album

Alalia Stevens' album

gem album


Annapolis Valley apples



hats and another presentation



head shapes

Nova Scotians at play

postcards from away

gone but not forgotten

unlikely clergymen


tintypes more tintypes and still more tintypes even more tintypes

cartes de visite more cartes de visite and more cartes de visite

cabinet cards

canine indignities

the tale of David Anderson Behie

from Laura

Joe Wilner wilner continued and more wilner

from Heidi

20th Connecticut Volunteers



For the geographically curious, there's a fine map of Nova Scotia place names in pdf form (use the zoom function to see details). At some point I'll add links to surname geography work I did some years ago, which intersects in a number of interesting ways.