Funny photos

There was no Vita Brevis post on April Fools’ Day this year since April 1st fell on Sunday, so I’m sharing some funny family pictures today.

The first photograph didn’t start off funny; in fact it’s a little sad due to its deteriorated condition. However, after some … shall we say “inexpert”? … photo restoration by a family member (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty), it has become hilarious!

I’m afraid that I don’t have a copy of the entire picture in its original state, but the first stage of editing gives a good idea of the unaltered condition. It depicts my husband’s great-grandparents, Joseph and Genevieve (Perone) Sciolaro, and their two oldest children, taken circa 1900 in Kansas City.

The next version shows what a deft hand can do with a digital photo-editing program … or not! I think the idea was to use a mid-twentieth-century photograph of my mother-in-law’s face to reconstruct that of the grandmother for whom she was named. However, the results are not quite all that one could hope. As for the molded plastic hair effect, I’m not quite sure how that came about, to say nothing of the zany eyes!

It’s hardly noticeable compared to the spectacular effects achieved on his wife, but the whites of Joe’s eyes have been enhanced, the color of his tie and shirt have been changed, and he’s gained a really broad right shoulder. Having viewed this spectacular case study, let’s repeat together: “Friends don’t let friends use Photoshop on old pictures!”

The final photograph I have to share is of my husband’s great-great-grandmother, Catharina Elisabeth (Ernst) Pinnecker. She lived her entire life in Volga German communities in Russia, but several of her children migrated to Kansas in the early twentieth century, including the daughter who bore her name and became my husband’s great-grandmother.

My husband is an excellent storyteller, and is known for a fair degree of exaggeration. When he told a group of people about his ancestress looking like Bob Hope in a headscarf, I feared that people would dismiss this expression as yet another bit of hyperbole. Thankfully I was able to pull up a picture of this lady on my cell phone so that they could see the truth of his claim. She doesn’t have the comedic great’s famous ski slope nose, but the overall effect is spot on!

Happy belated April Fools’ Day to all … and thankful are we, indeed, who have old family photos to laugh over!

Pamela Athearn Filbert

About Pamela Athearn Filbert

Pamela Athearn Filbert was born in Berkeley, California, but considers herself a “native Oregonian born in exile,” since her maternal great-great-grandparents arrived via the Oregon Trail, and she herself moved to Oregon well before her second birthday. She met her husband (an actual native Oregonian whose parents lived two blocks from hers in Berkeley) in London, England. She holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon, and has worked as a newsletter and book editor in New York City and Salem, Oregon; she was most recently the college and career program coordinator at her local high school.

6 thoughts on “Funny photos

  1. We have a hilarious family portrait, taken of my husband, two children and me by a traveling professional photographer. From the looks on our faces you’d swear we were sitting in front of a firing squad. Funny photos aren’t all from long ago.

  2. Thanks for the reminder to destroy a few snapshots of myself and children that depict us as a very poor fam from “up the holler”. Snapshots that were purposely posed as a joke, but our descendants might believe they were a true depiction of our curcumstances, or send them off on the wrong research path!

  3. I wonder how many of the sepia photos taken in the last 20 years will someday be a family picture. Especially the ones where they’re dressed up in old period clothes.

  4. My great grandparents did not have a formal wedding photo taken. However, after my grandmother was born, they had a formal portrait taken of the three of them. Years later, my grandmother’s younger sister decided to have the photo altered on the pretext of turning it into a “wedding photo” and thus had my grandmother digitally removed. Did I say that the two sisters always seemed a bit critical of each other?

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