Sunday, June 9, 2013

Putting People Together

One of the outgrowths of poring over unidentified photographs is finally discovering similarities after conquering what was once unfamiliar terrain. It has been six months now since I first began familiarizing myself with the unmarked photographs in Bill Bean’s collection.

As I mentioned the other day, sometimes I’m left with no other devices than to group pictures according to dimensions of the frames. Admittedly, that is a pretty weak technique, but when you are left with no further choices, any similarities are better than none.

After having repeatedly sorted through this stack of photos, some faces unbelievably started leaping out at me—or perhaps my eye, so wearied from the needle-in-haystack experience, began imagining similarities where none were entitled to exist.

You judge for yourself.

Actually, your feedback would be—and has been—rather helpful.

In today’s grouping of Bill’s photographs, I have gathered together some which have the same size, quality of paper, and type of border. While that is admittedly a weak link, I also have some facial hints to boost the possibilities.

And, best of all, I found a similar subject in another picture. And it has a date!

While I still have no names, at least I have groupings. Let’s take a look at what fell together in this latest iteration of the saga of the unidentified photos.

First, here is the picture with the date inked in on the top right corner.

photograph from collection of Bill Bean Alameda California

The photo itself is faded—something you’d expect from a shot taken in 1919—but it’s the face that calls to me. See if you find this guy in any of the following photos.

The next picture is of three young men, dressed in the same style of clothing—appropriate for a camping trip. They are standing in a partially wooded area. While I’m not sure about this, the man in the middle might be the one from the previous photograph.

from collection of Bill Bean in Alameda California

The next photo starts introducing some interesting connections. First, this shot is of only two men, and more of the surrounding area was captured. I’m guessing the man on the left in this duo below is one and the same as the guy on the left in the previous picture. Would you agree?

What I love about this particular picture is that I feel fairly confident the man on the right matches a photo I’ve posted previously—from a rest stop on a rocky hillside. Looks like he’s wearing the same outfit, too. This may provide the “rest of the story” for this grouping of photos.

from photograph collection of Bill Bean of Alameda California

I almost didn’t include the next photo. At first, I thought maybe it was overexposed. It looks like the men are lounging on a snow-covered hillside. That doesn’t seem quite right, though. They certainly aren’t dressed for such an expedition. While I suppose the white field they are surrounded by could be some sort of sandy area, the way the material cakes up on the boot of the older man makes that seem unlikely.

However, if this location is in California, based on a July expedition I’ve done myself, it could be possible that the men climbed high enough in the mountains to arrive at an altitude where they stumbled upon a yet-unmelted patch of snow. Yes, even in July. That's California.

What I’m interested in, though, is whether the man on the left in this shot is the same as the man on the right from the previous picture. What do you think?

from photograph collection of Bill Bean in Alameda California

This last photograph is one of my favorites. Oh, how I wish I knew who these people were! Like the previous photo, it was hard, at the start, to make out the details of the scene. Scanning the original and then manipulating it on Adobe Photoshop was helpful in getting the full story—down to such details as the fishing poles and the coffee pot perched by the campfire. Since the photo didn’t provide sufficient contrast, and since the black-and-white seemed to present such a mash-up of textures, I nearly missed even seeing the old man with the long beard and tall hat! Now being able to better see the three men in the picture, I’m wondering whether this might be a three-generation composition.

Unfortunately, I’ll probably never know the answer to this—or even find out the names of these men. That, however, is something I’ll have to agree to accept as my destination and choose, rather, to enjoy the journey.

from photograph collection of Bill Bean in Alameda California


  1. I seem many duplicate people, The fellow in #1 is most certainly the middle fellow in #2. And yes the old guy with the boots is in two photos..those boots are the giveaway there. Unshaven Pipe smoking guy in #3 is also in #2 and #5.
    I know there was a photo a long time ago..a group hiking that part of this group? Yes I agree it is snow in the one photo, there is a horse in one of the other photos too they must have been on an adventure:)

  2. I agree with Far Side on the duplicate people and that the older guy with the shin guards is the same one in your earlier post. Same trip, I'd say.

    I see nothing wrong with grouping photos by shape. I'm grateful when I can put a story together simply because the photo paper has curly edges! HA!

  3. I think I see a pistol sticking out of the dude on the far right in the second photo... and the "reflector oven" in the last photo reminds me of baking biscuits.

    I wonder if Bill organized "annual outings" for his employees? Many businesses used to do that.

  4. I agree with each one of your match-ups! I especially agree that the right-hand guy in photo 3 was the left-hand guy in photo 4. And the guy on the left in photo 5 is also the guy on the left in photos 2 and 3.

    I think you have a bunch of good friends here, on an "outing." I googled California and salt, and saw some pictures of "salt flats" in/near Death Valley.


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