Tuesday, March 12, 2013

'Ah go on, give us a kiss': Expressions of affection in family images

I just love this photo. Lots of affection here.
I especially like the way my mom, Mary, is smiling at her elder sister Bernadette.
From left to right: Mary Ball Geraghty, Michael Geraghty, Bernadette Ball Higgins, James Higgins, and Mary Higgins (sister of James).
The woman on the far right is not a member of their party.
The sound of that lovely and familiar Irish saying, 'Ah go on, give us a kiss' will definitely be in the air as we celebrate St. Patrick's Day at the end of this week, as will the phrase, 'Ah go on, give us a hug'. The person doing the asking is prompting the kiss or hug for his/herself, not for a group of people, as the pronoun implies; that's just how the phrase is spoken. Thinking about that phrase reminded me of expressions of affection in photographs down through the decades, since the time when cameras were first used to capture images of family.

Of course, photographic traditions and rules for portraiture have changed dramatically over time, with family pictures evolving from straight laced and serious portraits to images in which we find family members laughing, joking, and overtly expressing their affection for one another. Whether it's a kiss or a hug, or even a look, it's lovely to find expressions of affection revealed in old images of family members and their friends.

A family all wrapped up in Love: My mom and dad with my elder brother Michael, their first born child.
The men altogether: A rare photo with my maternal grandfather, whom I never got to meet, affectionally surrounded
by my Uncle Gerard (Jerry) on the left, and Patrick Doyle, my Aunt Kate's fiancé, on the right.
Tragically, not long after the day on which this photo was taken, young Patrick Doyle suddenly died.

All together now: A rare photo of my father with almost all of his siblings. Dad is on the left with his arms affectionately wrapped around my mother.
Left to right standing: Dad, Mom, Dad's sister Mary holding my brother Michael, Dad's brother John,
an unidentified friend, far right Dad's brother Enda.
Kneeling: Dad's sister Kathleen, and brother Declan. Missing from the photo is Dad's brother Patrick.
Click on images to view larger versions.

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Cheers, Jennifer

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