Terrible photographs that are wonderful

So, I’ve had time on my hands, you know? Good time to sort through photos.

I found some oldies-but-goodies from the days of film. Remember when we had to shoot off a roll without knowing how the shots turned out until developed? None of this “Oh, that’s not a good one. Delete.”

Some of these old photos are terrible. And they are so, so wonderful.

Like this one of my mother- and father-in-law dancing at a hall in Toronto. They are the couple in the very bottom right corner of a crooked photo of . . . pillars, more than anything. But I love it. See how happy they are? Don’t you wish you were that happy right now?

Black-and-white photo of dance hall in the 1950s

This is my grandmother, probably around 1983 or so. It’s a terrible picture—crooked and overexposed with light from the window—but I love it. She lived with us for the last year of her life, and she spent a lot of time knitting by the fire. Our dog used to sit like Snoopy on his dog house on the back of the chair beside her. This terrible photo makes my heart as warm as the fire she was sitting beside.

Woman knitting by the fire. Dog on the chair beside her.

We can’t forget the classic “thumb over the lens” pictures. Here’s one of my father-in-law, red polka-dot hat on his head, hammer in hand. What is not to love about this terrible, wonderful photo?

What terrible, wonderful photos do you love?

10 thoughts on “Terrible photographs that are wonderful

  1. marianbeaman

    Ah, Arlene. You know that I’m a sucker for nostalgic photos.

    They are wonderful! I remember the thumb-over-lens pics especially. Ha!

    When I first heard of digital cameras, one thing stood out: If you don’t like a picture, you can delete it, no charge.

    Works for me! 😀

  2. Ally Bean

    I like your photos. I wish I could think of one of my own to rival yours, but you take the prize with the thumb over the lens one. Although a polka dot hat is a contender, too.

  3. Barbara Fraser

    Memories. Remember when we could look at old photos with the carousel on the white wall of a bedroom. I so regret disposing of all the old trays of view master sized film. I am sure all those old relatives would never comprehend covit 19. Nor do I. Barb Fraser

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      We still have trays of slides in the basement – that we will never look at! I’ve been transferring them to digital, which is a long and tedious process. Another COVID project. And you’re right, our relatives lived through war and depression, but the weirdness of right now would be incomprehensible.

  4. Sheryl

    It’s so true that some photos that aren’t very good from a technical perspective bring back the warmest memories. This post made me think of several “flawed” photos that I have that are really special to me.

    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      I have enjoyed going through photos and having little walks down memory lane during this unexpected pause in my life. It’s interesting to me that so many of the photos I most cherish are ones that others would dismiss as being of poor quality. I guess quality is in the eye of the beholder.


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