Researching: When Pictures Help


Any book with a historical setting, be it the Middle Ages or the late 1990s, requires painstaking research. The general rule is that the further back you go, the more you can invent. Luckily, from the middle of the 19th century onwards we have photographic records to help us, but even these reflect the appealing subject matter of the time and the technology available, so that we still have a distorted view. Lately, a few colour photographs from the 1940s and here have been surfacing which add another dimension to what we only thought we knew.

The predominance of cadmium reds and yellows in London during this period has always surprised me – colours were plain and unsubtle. The blackened buildings look solid and strangely comforting, though. How differently we would dress without access to jeans and trainers, and without the energy of the modern ethnic mix.

5 comments on “Researching: When Pictures Help”

  1. Mike Cane says:

    That photo is just so many kinds of wonderful!

  2. Anne Hill Fernie says:

    The photos are gorgeous and the website’howtobearetronaut’ website is rather brilliant overall. There’s 1920s moving colour film of London as well & also check out the ‘fairly sinister vintage ads’ – they are actually draw-droppingly appalling in some cases……

  3. J. Folgard says:

    Brilliant finds! Puts yet another perspective on “things past”. Thanks!

  4. Lisa says:

    I want to walk into those photos and stay forever.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    It’s fascinating to watch ordinary people doing ordinary things in the long ago. The two flapper types walking through the park are (were?) wonderful and what was with those hundreds of men in Petticoat Lane – and all wearing hats?

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