Feb 5 2012: The Leisure Society: Twenty-Two Colour Portrait Format Images of a Young Couple’s Time Off (1970)
Following yesterday’s selection of monochrome images from the snapshot album of a young couple in 1970, here is the first of two similar selections of colour photography from the same scrapbook, with the portrait format images gathered here in all their slightly faded and heightened sunlit glow. Whether looking out from the doorway of a small touring caravan, taking a boat out, visiting pipe organs at showgrounds or posing with their various cars and alsatian dog, the distinctive bleached colours and haze that envelops each scene is both suggestive and in some strange way, rather lyrical.
The class background of the couple in these pictures seems hard to read, too: they might be a fairly typical Midlands working couple of the time (I can imagine him in manufacturing, her perhaps teaching – a clue may lie in one image seemingly taken outside a school) but they could equally be middle class: perhaps it says something about that particular period that these usually unavoidable lines were blurred in ways they hadn’t often been previously, and are increasingly rarely smudged today as the trappings of leisure become the preserve of a professional or more formally educated class.
In 1970, by a curious inversion, it was more common for industrial workers than the better off to holiday at home, boating or travelling around these very British attractions, while in 2012 the intervention of mass tourism has tended to mean the reverse is the case today, with the festival circuit and country shows, boating and broadsheet-approved campsites all part of the newly established summer season of the British media class: where once the money frequented Ascot, Henley and Cowes, today it’s likely to be seen networking its way around Glastonbury, Hay and Edinburgh.