Indian Portraits from the 1950s and 1960s

Between Chennai and Pondicherry is an area with an especially high proliferation of “junk stores.  I suppose the owners would prefer we’d call them antique shops – but there actually aren’t that many actual antiques, just lots of oddities and strange treasures, many of which are made to look old.

In the back of one of these shops, the owner has stacked hundreds of old photographs.  Most of them are marked or stamped as having come from a photography shop in Madurai, not too far from here, and there is the occasional photo with a date identifying it from the late 1950s or early 1960s.  I thought they were fascinating to go through, and thought you might enjoy seeing some of them too.  I’ve scanned them with the attached mattes partially showing so you can see the full effect.

This is a proud bicycle owner.

Vintage Photos from Madurai

My Five Sons. I love how they have all been carefully placed into these photos by the photographer.  I imagine him instructing: “OK, stay in that position…and look natural!”

Vintage Photos from Madurai

No one looks happy – but not smiling in photos is very common in this part of the world.



I was able to repair much of the damage to this extended family photo, except for some of the faces, which are tough to fix without knowing what the people look like. I’d love to know the story behind this photo.

Vintage Photos from Madurai

What is the ITPT Company, what was Mr. Jones’s job there, and where are all of these people now?

Vintage Photos from Madurai

The selection above is only about half the photos I picked up.  You can check out the rest here on Flickr.

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3 Responses to Indian Portraits from the 1950s and 1960s

  1. Mike says:

    These are quite wonderful – I look for pictures in stores here in the US. I have not tried scanning with the matte – always assumed that the photo would be fuzzy if the matte was sharp – any good tips on how to do this? Thanks again for a most delightful diversion from the daily hamster wheel!

  2. Tom (Admin) says:

    I never thought about it, just scanned it – but now that you mention it, what you say makes sense. I thought the matte should be a part of it, cropping wouldnt have been the same. The white surface that presses down on the picture is a bit squishy, and i think simply finding a way to press the photo to the glass inside the matte should keep the scan sharp.

  3. Tom (Admin) says:

    I would think finding something to press down the photo so it is against the glass should do it? I never really thought about it, it just worked!

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