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AP photo/Journal Star, Ron Johnson Photographs contributed from families in the Metamora area from the 1830s to the 1930s are displayed at the Metamora Courthouse in a display that runs through Sept. 14.
Jean Myers, curator of the Metamora Courthouse, looks at some of the antique photography on display through Sept. 14. AP photo/Journal Star, Ron Johnson
The Associated Press
METAMORA (AP) — Striking a pose, grinning ear-to-ear and reluctantly murmuring “cheese” are formalities of being photographed that seem rooted in tradition since time immemorial. But many photographs of yesteryear relate subjects that appear sullen and angry that their likeness will be captured in permanence. At the antique photography show on exhibit in the Metamora Courthouse, which displays photographs from the 1830s to the 1930s, finding a smile is a mostly fruitless endeavor. “They would have to hold their position for one to two minutes because the exposure time was so long back then,” said Jean Myers, curator of the Metamora Courthouse. “If you moved at all, the picture would be blurry. That’s why there’s no smiles.” The show — running through Sept. 14 — features a range of photographic techniques and the stories of each photograph at the advent of the technology. Early photographers tried to print their image on everything, Myers said, which explains the breadth of processes used: daguerreotypes were weak print under glass, collodions only printed positives and not negatives and stereoscopic cards were precursors to three-dimensional View-Masters. The starkest photographs contain color, an obvious red herring of the era. Color photography did not exist commercially until the 1940s, and the color seen in the exhibit’s photos were manually applied later. “To make people look more lively,” Myers explained. “That would be very expensive back then.” Since the photos were gathered by local collectors, many of them are family heirlooms or depictions of people and events from historic Woodford County communities. In this way, the show serves the dual purpose of curating local history and attempting to identify more of that history as more than half of the photographs are unlabeled. Myers hopes some local families will see the exhibit and either identify an ancestor or start better photo habits. “Even if it’s a digital photograph, write a date and label on it,” Myers said. Jim Aceree, a 90-year-old man who recently moved to Eureka from Florida to be closer to family, came to the courthouse for the Abraham Lincoln artifacts and stayed for the antique photography. It’s one of the few things he has seen at his age that are older than him, picking a picture of a disgruntled little boy as his favorite. “That little boy’s picture is a hoot,” Aceree said. “Photography has always amazed me, even the digital ones today.” Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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