Not What They Appear

One of the weirder aspects of early 1900’s tourism and postcards mailed-home-from-the-west, was the slightly psychedelic phenomenon of “exaggeration photos”. One of the earliest fantasticators was a guy named William “Dad” Martin who ran a shady photo studio in Kansas but fabricated images set all over the west. The macabre image of giant dead rabbits is one of his from 1909 stamped with a caption “How we do it in Washington”. Another, more local image manipulator was Mortimer L. Oakes, who preferred to visually lie about the size of clams, fish, fruit and vegetables. Then there are the anonymous tricksters and image swindlers who created meetings that never happened and events that never occurred (i.e. Ezra never met Teddy Roosevelt next to his ox team outside the Executive Office Building in DC). Mostly it was all just fun, Jackalopes and scary big bugs and brook trout, but every time I go into an old house with high ceilings, low door knobs, big kitchen hooks or huge built in butcherblocks and a docent tells me things were just different back then I shutter just a bit. BTW one of these images is completely real and another includes and inside joke that you have to be a Northwest photography nerd to get.

1 comment

  1. Photographers may shutter.
    UW profs also might, but probably wouldn’t admit to it.
    The rest of us shudder at the mere thought.
    Love to read your engaging stories, Michael.


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