My husband is currently compiling a book about his great-great-grandfather, Konrad Nahrung, who emigrated to Australia from Germany back in the 19th Century. Most of the book consists of an annotated transcription of Konrad’s memoirs, along with whatever supporting documents my husband has been able to dredge up from various people and places. One of these documents is a 50th Wedding Anniversary portrait of Konrad and his wife, Wilhemina, photographed with the extended Nahrung clan on 9th July, 1915:
I love this photo for many reasons. It is old — the actual card-mounted print we have is faded and chipped, with the surface flaking off here and there — and seeing all those grim, unsmiling faces reminds me of just what a serious business photography once was. And time-consuming: look at those couple of blurred babes who simply could not sit still enough for the time it took the shutter to close.
But my very favourite part of this photograph is the little head peeking out from inside the building that forms the backdrop. (You’ll probably need to click on the image and bring it up full-size in order to make him or her out.) We have no idea who this early 20th Century photobomber is — she or he is not mentioned in the accompanying document that names the members of the family pictured — but I’m very pleased to see that the solemnity of the occasion was maintained. There were no cheesy grins, crossed eyes or cheeky rabbit ears from this interloper!
I do wonder who it is, though. A disgraced black sheep determined to get in on the family portrait no matter what? A farm worker or unrelated visitor intent on seeing their image preserved for posterity? At this late date it will likely be impossible to ever find a name to match that half-concealed face. But, almost one hundred years later, she or he is still there. Still being noticed and pondered and smiled over well into the next century.
Job well done, young photobomber. Job well done!
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