Tilba Tilba portrait

“Charlie Ferguson’s sister,” Tilba Tilba, New South Wales, ca. 1895, by William Henry Corkhill, via Trove of the National Library of Australia.

I love this formal pose in front of a vegetable garden — and it’s very typical of the photographer’s work.

“Charlie Ferguson and William (Wallaga) Arthur Mead with an unidentified man. Click to enlarge.

Corkhill was an amateur who took thousands of pictures of his prosperous dairy farming community between 1890 and 1910.

His images were rediscovered in 1975, when his daughter gave his surviving glass plate negatives to the National Library. Among the 840 that could still be printed were portraits of family and neighbors of a “special intensity and intimacy,” according to the book, Taken at Tilba.

For the natural light, Corkhill had to work outside, in gardens and farmyards. But he often posed his subjects as if they were in a studio, with small tables, chairs, and books. His backdrops were sometimes shrubs and flowers, but he also seemed satisfied with rough fences, water tanks, or the space between two farm sheds. Occasionally, the sitters look a little amused by the process, but the photographer’s approach is not ironic.

“Corkhill’s familiarity with and affection for his subjects is evident . . . and imbues his photographs with a strange combination of authority and informality. He has a rather casual approach to the backgrounds in his portraits, as if his familiarity with the scenes he records makes him impervious to some of their oddities,” according to his biography on the Library’s website.

You can click on the linked titles below to see more of his pictures, or you can browse through the online catalog here.

Woman with a dog
Woman by a cane table
Daisy Mead
Boy by a chair
Mrs. Elizabeth Kendall Bate, aged about 83
Man sitting in a garden
Two young men
Frank Stanley Griffiths
Corkhill’s wife and their children
Byrnes family
Young woman by a table
Two children
Two young men

Vintage landscape: cabbage

Cabbage portrait, Mississippi Dept. of History and ArchivesCrystal Springs, Mississippi, between 1900 and 1950, via Luther Hamilton Photograph Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History Commons on flickr.

The almost 1,000 photos in this collection were taken or collected by the Luther Myles Hamiltons — Sr. and Jr. — during the first half of the 20th century.  They document life in and around the farm town of Crystal Springs.  

Luther Sr. was a portraitist, and his pictures of the babies, children, and women on this page are lovely.

Many of the farm fields in the suburbs of Stuttgart are blue with rows of cabbages right now.  I will try to get a photo before the harvest.

The stump of the newborn
dries in the crook of my arm.
I am the witch, cradling
the pale green head,
murmuring, “Little one,
you look good enough to eat.”

Lisel Mueller, from “Found in the Cabbage Patch

Vintage landscape: harvest

A few beautiful Kodachrome images of the season. . .

Harvest, 1940s, Library of Congress“Exhibit of crops and vegetables at the Pie Town, New Mexico, Fair,” 1940, by Russell Lee.

The story of Pie Town and of the photos Lee took there is here, in Smithsonian Magazine.

Harvest, 1940s, Library of CongressMrs. Jim Norris canning vegetables, Pie Town, New Mexico, 1940, by Russell Lee. (You can click on the image to enlarge it.)

Harvest, 1940s, Library of Congress“Display of home-canned food,” between 1941 and 1945, photographer not noted.

All three images were taken for the U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information on the then new Kodachrome color transparency film.  All via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Oh! for a thousand pumpkin seeds,
To plant for my son John;
He says that pumpkin pies are good
When the winter time comes on.

Robert Charles O’Hara Benjamin, from “The Farmer’s Soliloquy

Vintage landscape: O cabbage gardens

cabbage garden, FBJohnson collection, Library of CongressCabbages in the vegetable garden of Chelmsford, Greenwich, Connecticut, ca. 1914, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Alaska cabbage garden, via Library of CongressA cottage garden in Alaska, between 1909-1920. By National Photo Company, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Puerto Rico cabbage garden, ca. 1941, J. Delano, Library of CongressWoman in her garden, Puerto Rico, Winter 1941/42, by Jack Delano, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

cabbage garden, Maxey Hse, Paris TX, flickrThe vegetable garden and cold frames of the Maxey House, Paris, Texas, undated, from the Samuel Bell Maxey Collection, via Texas State Archives Commons on flickr.

Norris gardenMrs. Jim Norris with homegrown cabbage, Pie Town, New Mexico, October 1940, by Russell Lee, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

eternity swallows up time
                        O cabbage gardens
summer’s elegy
                        sunset survived

Susan Howe, from “Cabbage Gardens

Vintage landscape: flowers and cabbages

“A cottage & garden, Alaska,” ca. 1909-1920. By National Photo Company, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

A similar photo of this cottage was labeled “a sourdough’s home.” The word ‘sourdough’ was slang in Alaska for an oldtimer, probably from the Klondike gold rush.  You can click on the image to enlarge it.

                        O cabbage gardens
summer’s elegy
                        sunset survived
Susan Howe, from “Cabbage Gardens