Outside the house
The seaside ‘walkies’ are a very specific form of portrait, but just one of many offered by photographers outside the studio. I suspect ‘people outside their houses’ is another, but have so far found no firm evidence of this beyond the many such postcards which fit this description. At first I thought it was just a fashion but there are just so many that it seems more likely itinerant photographers simply travelled around, knocked on doors, and offered to photograph the inhabitants stood by their door. I have recently found a couple of such cards with reference numbers on, which further suggests a passing trade. Certainly it is documented that photographers with mobile darkrooms existed.
Inevitably as these were done by day, the majority of the people at home would be women. The trade appears to have gone by the early 1900s as other opportunities proved more lucrative.
This image is typical. The woman is posed beside her front door, and the photographer has taken in the whole property. Although most such portraits are on postcards, this one is actually double that size (with two pre-printed postcard backs on the reverse.)
The majority of these portraits are anonymous, and very hard to locate (the number 17 is on the door.) This one turned up in the collection of my brother’s wife, but nobody now knows who the woman is, though the family lived in the Scunthorpe area and the building material appears to be sandstone. This suggests a building date of the early 1800s and it is quite a generous cottage too, perhaps an estate rental? I like the roses round the door and the wooden fence, something of a cottage garden cliche perhaps, but this time for real. Bricks are being used to fill the gap below the fence.
The image is pin-sharp, suggesting a decent size glass negative, and the perspective is corrected which implies a bellows camera of some sort.
If anybody knows more about this trade do let me know. I’ll get some more scanned anon.