When I was a kid back in the 90’s I used to collect Spice Girls collectors cards. My favorite spice girl changed from week to week but to have tiny pictures of them made me so happy. I loved singing along to their songs and I even had Spice Girls buffalo shoes! Then I only knew them as collectors cards or fan cards, but when i grew older i came to realize that small pictures of celebrities wasn’t a new phenomenon. In fact this thing with small portraits of people that are meant to be shared with others are about as old as photography it self (almost).
Before there were selfies
Year 1855 became the year where this new thing called “Carte de visit” started its journey to become really popular among the once that could afford it. Carte de visit or Visiting cards (abbreviated CDV) was small portraits of people that were meant to be handed out to friends and family. Measurements 54.0 mm (2.125 in) × 89 mm (3.5 in). The most cost effective way of producing CDV was to shoot 8 small images on one single plate negative. Later when the images where developed they would be mounted on thicker paper cards.
Years later in around 1860 when most people had seen and heard about emperor Napoleon III’s CDV everyone went loco, and wanted to have their CDV taken just like the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious emperor himself. Now the world got struck by something in history called “cardomania”. Yeah, it was that crazy.
About 10 years later circa 1870 people wanted something more, bigger and better (just like anything in history) and in enters “Cabinet cards”. It’s basically exactly most definitely the precise same thing EXCEPT its output size is bigger then CDV. But, nevertheless it basically replaced the love for the smaller sized CDV.
The world was infected by this cardomania sickess until Mr. Kodak himself released the first so-affordable-and-user-firendly-even-the-poor-and-uneducated-could-buy-and-use-it camera called the BROWNIE I. After that photography entered a new phase in history… but that’s another blog post.
The Cardomania was over but history repeats itself again and again and again and again….
I think we all have seen collectors cards of glamorous old Hollywood actors and actresses. That’s the earliest memory I have of a sort of renaissance (light version) of cardomania. Then came Spice Girls and Pokémon cards. Even ice hockey cards (that i wasn’t into) was popular when i was a tiny little troll. Nowadays we have Instagram and every other social media so shearing pictures of one self isn’t that hard or expensive. But the need to collect/save images of celebs that inspires and shear pictures of yourself with friends and family will always be there more or less I think.
In my own photography
I feel so privileged when i get the honors of shooting portraits of people that have a lot of images of themselves but like how i present people and/or have the ability to give the final images the sort of feeling clients are looking for. When I send the final images out to clients I send them one by one. Meaning I don’t send out the Cart de visit of them that i make for myself to see that there’s a cohesiveness in the images selected and that there’s a variation in poses and expressions (see example here). I wouldn’t want 10 images of me looking exactly the same so i assume my clients feel so too. BUT, I’ve given this some thought and i think i will send out my CDV i make of the clients. At least to the once that order the bigger portrait package so to say. I have a booking fee and then a basic package (if you will) that includes 3 images. From there my clients can choose to request more frames and in doing so the studio time will increase, so will the post-production time and evidently the cost of my service.
As always I get so much joy from reading photography history. Not only do i understand the current situation of the topic better but it also helps me predict the future. Or at least try to. I’m often looking forward to discussions with people that has the same interest and especially people that know so much that i haven’t yet come across. This topic is ironically ever changing while at the same time being the only medium readily available that “freezes time”.
In any case; I hope my images will bring joy to people even as i pass on to another dimension (whenever that is… who knows). Portraits what will make people feel good about themselves when their older or be a beautiful memory for loved once left behind when they also passes on. Images that will make people think and feel something positive about life and the journey trough it. I’m not here to save the world… others are better at that job then me. But, I hope that I can inspire others to find there force/passion in life and trough that find a sort of zen. Cause I believe that humanity can be less fucked up if more people looked into themselves for piece of mind… and trough that feel the joy in wanting others to feel the same.