A picture of just one person is a very different kettle of fish from a picture of a couple, or of a group. Generally the single subject is at the center, and often radiates an aura of pose, sometimes raffish or jocular unless the portrait situation is formal, in which case the subject often (but not always) gazes away from the camera and seems suspended from living, breathing reality. An exploration of a large array of one-person photographs is sure to amuse and inform.


This worthy gentleman is clearly On Vacation
bathing dude

Aunt Kate, on the other hand, doesn't look like she ever went to the beach:
Aunt Kate

Some people think it's appropriate to smile for the photographer. And some don't:
No Smile

Some take justifiable pride in accoutrements:
Leg of Mutton and Lace
...or perhaps in hair genes...


In a more innocent time, such luxuriance was called a beaver:
A real beaver

Sometimes you can read a person's future from the face. This one looks like he's headed straight for a lifetime of dyspepsia:
Headed straight for dyspepsia

The designated worrier:
Designated worrier

An air of studied nonchalance:
An air of studied nonchalance

A seriously bad hair day:
Another hair disaster

More horrible hair:
More seriously bad hair

There is no danger that you will ever do anything right:
No danger

As an objet trouv´e, this one is perfect in its composition and execution:
Chic Studio #1

on the back: "the last snap Ernest took of poor Alice G."
The last snap Ernest took of poor Alice G.

A Centenarian?

Can styles of hair and clothing help to date pictures? I'm guessing this one is around 1870:
sausage curls

The original of this one is a 6 x 9 tintype, one of the largest I've seen. Fiddling with the contrast makes the hand coloring look almost lifelike:
large tintype

Is it mumps, or a big wad of gum?
Mumps or not missy, you have an appointment with the photographer

Some people just have to be of certain astrological signs. This one needs to be a Capricorn:
Say, I bet you're a Capricorn

Nonchalance again:
nonchalance or insouciance?

Sometimes the photographer gets carried away with retouching:
The Retoucher's Art

A boy can take pride in his possessions
A source of pride

Some seem to be at Death's door:

Some are healthy, but just imagine the corsetry:

A vessel under full sail:
Under full sail

More lace, less hair:
Dr. Bronner's patent Hair Food: before

More hair, but... imagine her as a Deadwood character
More hair, less...

Another hair disaster:
Lamentable perm

Wolfville portrait