I love looking at old portraits. It's a peephole into the past, and with some imagination, it can be extra entertainment when browsing through antique stores.
Just what, I wonder, could be so bad for these folks? They certainly took care to dress well and groom themselves perfectly. But don't they all look so grim - even that adorable little girl! Noticeable, isn't it, how far apart the man and woman are careful to keep their arms - no touching. The little girl with a hand on each shoulder. Hmm --- It would be easy to create an dramatic story around this photo, but I will stop myself.
But it is sad, how forlorn they seem. Is there no joy to be had at all?
There might be the tiniest wisp of a smile around the man's mouth...
*On the way to have their only family portrait ever, maybe the daughter threw a screaming fit because she didn't want to have her hair curled? Now the mother is frustrated, though victorious, and the father is angry with them both for ruining his trip to town.
**What if that's the man's recent mail-order bride and new mother for his daughter? Looks like she might be wishing she had stayed back east, and they wish so, too. But they force themselves to sit for this photograph since they have committed themselves to marriage and becoming a family.
***Maybe they are the only surviving members of the outbreak of influenza which took the lives of the rest of their family and more than half of their town. These parents want to have this portrait done now that they are painfully aware how fragile life is.
****Perhaps, and only perhaps, the father has eaten hard boiled eggs on the long wagon ride into town. A man has to eat, right? Right. A man gets hungry, right?? Right! But the resulting .... aromas might be enough to cause the whole family to sport grim looks of "Dad did it again!" This might also explain the distance between spouses and the hint of a smile teasing the man's lips. In fact, the more I look at him, the guiltier he looks to me! You?
I like that last little "Maybe..." better than the influenza one.