Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Sarah weighs into the crying baby debate today in The Times:
Even when I am just putting up a link, I like to find a good photograph to go with it. I am keenly aware of the importance of offering you a little visual pleasure, especially at the moment, when our eyeballs are seared by wall-to-wall politicians. So off I wandered on The Google to find a nice illustration. Most modern photographs of babies are simply ghastly, it turns out, banal and obvious and glutinously sentimental. It might sound like a rather awful thing to say, but babies as a generic are not that interesting. What are lovely are photographs of babies one knows, because they are invested with love and intimacy and context.
Anyway (there is a point to this story), I turned away from the gloopy baby pictures and typed in 'vintage photograph of mother and child' to see if I could find something more interesting. And that led me to a website showing the photographs of Ruth Orkin. I collect photographs, and have some passing knowledge of it, but I had never heard of her.
She turned out to be rather brilliant. I found photographs like this:
(Sorry they are rather tiny; they come out that way and if I blow them up they lose focus.)
Here is where the serendipity part comes in. As I browsed through the archives, I found this photograph:
I bought this as a postcard years ago. I remember absolutely loving it because I hoped it would be exactly what I would be like when I was an old lady, running off to Rome with one of my girlfriends. I too would wear a hat and an elegant frock and drink my drink through a straw. And today, because Sarah wrote an article about babies, and I needed to find a good photograph to illustrate it, I finally stumbled upon the author of my postcard. I don't know why I did not just turn the card over and look for the credit, but there are many things I do or do not do which have no explanation. But now I do know, and I could not be more pleased. Ruth Orkin, I salute you.
To see more of her photographs in their full glory, go to http://www.orkinphoto.com/index.php. It's really worth five minutes of your time.