Saturday, May 11, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Awkward Family Photos

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

With apologies to my fellow Homo-Sepians, I am preparing for a big trip and will be gone for several weeks, so my participation in Sepia Saturday will be minimal at best. I just hope I remember to link my post!

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is probably much like a photo that every family historian has in his or her collection: the stern patriarch and matriarch, not particularly good-looking, just staring into the camera. We wonder if they experienced any joy in their lives. We wonder if they had teeth.

James Crawford and Rebecca Davis

Davis and Shiflett
Layton Early and Elizabeth Eppard
Jenetta Dovel and Philip Pendleton Shiflett/Shiplett

Like the couple in the prompt, my 2X great-grandfather had a cane.
James Franklin Jollett
and Eliza Jane Coleman Jollett

If you had a good laugh over these photos, then you’ll really enjoy seeing what others came up with at Sepia Saturday.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Great collection of very sober couples! It really is a shame in early photography the subjects were not allowed to smile because they generally couldn't hold an exact smile for the duration of time they had to be absolutely still so the resulting photo wouldn't be blurred.

  2. Great collection of unsmiling couples. I bet they had a laugh sometime or another!

  3. They seemed to get more stern as I read on. I've got some pretty stern ancestors too. I might be afraid to meet them!

  4. If you go back far enough, having your portrait taken was obviously a serious business :)

  5. I try to remember with that they needed to keep still so often this lead to stern faces and one of the photos I have of a stern great grand mother, in particular, is not necessarily because she is unfriendly. Have a nice trip.

  6. These were all great photos. I do wonder why they didn't ever smile in photos. We had a few from both of our sides of the family of the "older generations" and they were all stiff lipped like these.

    Have a great trip! I hope you blog about it afterward, sounds adventurous!

    Happy Mother's Day!


  7. All are excellent choices for this week's theme. I've read that photos of old married couples from this time were intended as mementos for the next generations. Their lack of smiles may have been because they didn't want to seem like they were mocking death. I also think they were often taken on anniversaries.

  8. What a great collection of photos!