By Photogen

A family portrait

A day for checking my archives and finding out what and where everything is. I copied this very old photo in June 2005 from one of my relative's collections on a visit to my father's birthplace in Shetland.  It not only says something about the harsh times in the nineteenth century, but also about the culture of every family's imperative to have a formal family photograph. This is my Shetland cousin's family outside their croft. Her maternal grandfather is the little boy in the front. The older couple are her great grandparents and grand aunts/uncle - all those girls!
Life was harsh - no electricity, no running water, peat fires and subsistence crofting and fishing. The women would need to work from morning to night keeping body and soul together. They are all in their best handmade clothes. Shetland women were wonderful knitters, of course, and this was a source of additional income. Four of the women in the back row have married and have turned up for the photo shoot!
If you think there is something strange about the eyes, this is probably because the camera at that time would need a long exposure and they would have been instructed not to move,  producing this frozen look. The photographer has fixed some kind of backdrop and has connected them with hands on shoulders or linking arms. 

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