I looked through photograph albums put together by family members years ago, as well as hundreds of individual pictures that have been saved and passed along.
All the photographs that I saw were either black and white or sepia; none were in color. Those that were collected into albums were pasted onto black pages, presumably to keep them from fading. Some of the pictures had notations about names, places and dates, although most of them had nothing to identify the people, location or the year they were taken.
The pictures were taken by the old-fashioned black-box cameras that were held at the waist and clicked at the right time to capture the moment. A few, however, were taken long ago by professional photographers.
I noticed that most people in the pictures had neutral expressions on their faces. Obviously, those who took pictures back then did not say “Smile” or “Say cheese” or anything else to get people to lighten up.
There is one picture taken of my paternal grandparents during the ‘40s, my grandfather with the same neutral expression that was common in all pictures of him. My grandmother, however, had a sad, strained expression on her face as if she were about to cry. She explained to me years ago that when that picture was taken, their oldest son was overseas serving in World War II and that she was always worried about his safety. I saw several other pictures of male relatives in full uniform or fatigues, some of them taken in foreign lands.