Daily Picture Show

Talk About Time Lapse: A 70-Year Shoebox Series

In 1936, a 16-year-old girl from Tilburg, Holland, went to a fair. She picked up a gun at the shooting gallery and shot at a target. When she hit the target, a camera was triggered, and a portrait of her sure-shot squint was taken.

Ria van Dijk, now 90, continued to shoot at fairs for seven decades, collecting the prized photographs all along. Her personal collection has been curated by the editors of In Almost Every Picture — a small Dutch publication that celebrates amateur but delightful photo series like this one.

  • 1936
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1938
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1949
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1954
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1962
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1965
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1969
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1973
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1980
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1987
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 1993
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 2007
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing
  • 2009
    From 'In Almost Every Picture,' Collected and edited by Erik Kessels/Courtesy of KesselsKramer Publishing

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This small, repeated vignette tells a story that no professional documentarian or historian could capture. It shows 70 years passing in one tight frame, with one central character, as the world around her changes. She gets glasses, those glasses change, her hairstyles change and then become gray; she grows, gains weight, then starts to shrink a bit. Tweed, cigars and pillbox hats lead to aviators, Polaroids and finally digital cameras.

It's an unassuming but sweet story that could have easily been forever lost in a shoebox. Erik Kessels, editor of the book series, and Joep Eijkens, co-editor of this issue, have an affinity for this sort of found photography. The official book explanation puts it a lot better than I could:

Photography has become an integral part of our lives and tells the endless human stories that occur around us, often without us knowing, and marks the impressions and experiences we share in almost every picture.

In Almost Every Picture is a continuing series looking at the everyday phenomena of the way people see the world around them. ... The purity of intention in these amateur studies opens our awareness of those small miracles that can happen outside the overabundance of professional image making. And while the amateur may often mimic the professional, perhaps the amateur with their proximity and passion for their subject constantly breathes life into the reason we make photographs in the first place.

We know you have shoebox stories, too. Share them in our Flickr pool, tagged "nprshoebox." Thanks to my co-worker Theo Balcomb for discovering this one!

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