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Picturing the family
Picturing the family

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6.2 Street photography

Many portraits were taken outside the home and in the garden or, in the case of urban dwellers, in the street or back yard. Local studio proprietors could be commissioned to attend at the customer's house, in which case they would impose an additional charge to cover the extra time and effort involved. Itinerant operators regularly patrolled suburban streets and villages in search of speculative work. Their prices undercut those on offer in local studios. Weekdays would find women, children and servants at home in their workday clothes. Sundays found the whole family dressed in their best and therefore (by common consent) suitably attired to appear before the camera.

Just like their equivalents in the studio, street portraits could also be taken to celebrate rites of passage, special occasions and to record prized possessions. It is sometimes very difficult to know if the accessories in street portraits actually belonged to the sitter, were borrowed from more prosperous neighbours or were brought along by the photographer to encourage sales.